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Pink, Itchy Eyes? It Could Be Pink Eye

Pink eye, also known as conjunctivitis, is one of the most frequently encountered eye diseases, particularly with kids. This condition can be caused by viruses, bacteria or even irritation from chlorine in pools, ingredients found in cosmetics, and pollen, or other products that come into contact with your eyes. Some types of conjunctivitis are very communicable and easily spread in school and at the home or office.

Pink eye is seen when the conjunctiva, or thin transparent layer of tissue lining the white part of the eye, gets inflamed. You'll be able to recognize the infection if you notice itching, redness, discharge or inflamed eyelids and a crusty discharge surrounding the eyes in the morning. Symptoms of pink eye may occur in one or both eyes. The three basic kinds of conjunctivitis are: viral, allergic and bacterial conjunctivitis.

The viral type is usually a result of a similar virus to that which produces the familiar watery and red eyes, sore throat and runny nose of the common cold. Symptoms of viral conjunctivitis are likely to be present for a week to two and like other viruses cannot be treated with medication. Applying compresses to your eyes in a dark room may provide some relief. Viral pink eye is transmittable until it's gone, so meanwhile, maintain excellent hygiene, wipe away any discharge and avoid sharing pillowcases or towels. Children who have viral conjunctivitis should be kept home for three days to a week until it clears up.

The bacterial form which is caused by infections such as Staphylococcus or Streptococcus is usually treated with antibiotic eye drops or cream. One should see the symptoms disappearing after three or four days of treatment, but always be sure to follow the complete antibiotic prescription to stop the infection from recurring.

Pink eye caused by allergies is not contagious. It occurs more commonly in individuals who already suffer from seasonal allergies or allergies to substances such as pets or dust. The allergic symptoms in the eyes may be just a small part of their overall allergic response. The first step in alleviating conjunctivitis that is due to allergies is to remove or avoid the irritant, when possible. To ease discomfort, try artificial tears or compresses. When the infection is more severe, your optometrist may decide to give you a prescription for an anti-inflammatory or antihistamine. When the conjunctivitis persists for an extended period, steroid eye drops could be prescribed.

While conjunctivitis is often a minor condition, there is sometimes a chance it could worsen into a more severe condition. If you have signs of pink eye, be sure to visit your eye doctor in order to decide what the best treatment will be.