Pink eye, or conjunctivitis, is an inflammation of the thin tissue that lines the eyelids and covers the white part of the eyeball. Pink eye can be caused by viruses, bacteria, or allergies. Viral pink eye is most common and often follows a cold.
Symptoms may last a few hours to several weeks.
- Increased tear production
- Mild discomfort
- Burning sensation
- Pus-like drainage or crusting of the eyelids, particularly after sleeping
When to contact a clinician
Moderate to severe eye pain
Bright lights bother the eyes more than usual
Visual disturbance beyond the occasional blurring caused by discharge or tearing
Symptoms do not improve within one week
Symptoms worsen after using the prescribed medication
Most cases of pink eye will go away on their own after a few days, and no special treatment is needed.
- Avoid touching and rubbing eyes
- Use a clean, wet washcloth to gently soak off any crusting
- Wash hands frequently
- Avoid wearing contact lenses. This will reduce discomfort, allow medications to cover the entire eye, and help pink eye clear up more quickly.
- Over-the-counter eye drops relieve redness, itching, and swelling. Limit to short-term use to prevent rebound redness or redness from overuse.
Avoid further contamination
Wash or dispose of anything that recently contacted your eyes.
- Discard current contact lenses.
- Discard any eye makeup used during or immediately prior to the onset of symptoms. Avoid eye makeup until symptoms resolve.
- Don’t share towels and pillows. Machine wash regularly.