What is a pink eye?
Conjunctivitis, commonly known as pink eye is a swelling or infection in the outer membrane of your eyeball. Conjunctiva is a thin membrane that covers a lining in the eye. The blood vessels in the conjunctiva become inflamed which imparts a red or pink color to the eyes suffering through conjunctivitis.
Suddenly you wake up in the morning and try to open your eyes and become quite frustrated with the efforts. One eye seems to be stuck off and the other feels like rubbing against sandpaper. That is pink eye or conjunctivitis.
Types of pink eye
The viral strains are the most common among all strains of pink eye. Yet all others also have specific signs and symptoms. Here are few types of pink eye:
Viral strains: The most common ones are called the viral strains that tend to start in one eye causing a lot of watery discharge and tears. It takes just a few days to involve another eye too. A swollen lymph node may appear in front of your ear or jawbone.
Bacterial strains: The next important strain is the bacterial strain that usually infects one eye but can show up in both. A lot of mucus and pus comes out in this case from the eyes.
Allergic strains: Tearing, redness, itching in both eyes cause allergic strain along with itchy, runny, watery nose.
Ophthalmia neonatorum: A severe form affecting newborns and is caused by dangerous bacteria. It must be treated immediately to prevent blindness.
Giant Papillary Conjunctivitis: It is linked with the long-term use of an artificial eye or contact lenses.
General causes of pink eye:
The pink eye may have few promising symptoms and its reasons or causes may be all external. It may be an outcome of some allergic reaction, any incidental chemical attack, or any viral or bacterial influence.
Bacterial attack: Conjunctivitis may be called bacterial conjunctivitis if it is caused by some type of bacteria that causes strep throat and staph infections. It occurs with a strep or ear infection and may result in a lot of mucus or irritation than with any other pink eye.
Viral attack: The viruses that may cause the common cold are the reason for viral conjunctivitis that is more severe and difficult to treat than bacterial conjunctivitis. They occur in common with cold or upper respiratory tract infection. Either bacterial or viral, the pink eye by both is highly contagious and may easily be transmitted from one person to another by hand touch or touch through the same object.
Other organisms: Few other organisms as fungi, amoeba or parasites may cause the occurrence of pink eye.
Allergic conjunctivitis: Certain types of allergens as pollens, weather changes, polluted air, etc. may cause pink eye in one or both of your eyes. Histamines are activated due to the effect of allergens which as a result cause inflammation as a part of your body’s response to the outside factors. This reaction causes allergic conjunctivitis.
Effect of chemicals: Chemical splashes while working in the laboratory or any industry, passing through a chemically radiated area, exposure to any area of air polluted with chemicals, swimming in chloride waters for long, sweat drops in the eyes or any such exposure may cause chemical conjunctivitis. Chlorine is the component found in the backyard swimming pools is the common cause of conjunctivitis. An easy and effective way to keep a chemical irritant from causing pink eye or severity is to rinse your eyes immediately with water.
Symptoms of pink eye:
The symptoms of pink eye appear quite suddenly and are very severe. It’s a contagious disease that may get easily transferred to the other person who may get it worsened than you. Immediate symptoms may be:
- Pink or red-toned eyes: The eyes may become light pinkish to dark pink or red toned due to inflammation and rubbing.
- Gritty feelings in the eyes: The eyes may become gritty due to uneasiness in the eyes as if some sand or small itchy material is in the eyes.
- Watery discharge: A watery or thick discharge appears in the eyes due to continuous rubbing.
- Itchiness: Another potential symptom of pink eye is the itchiness that is the outcome of inflammation.
- Abnormal amount of tears: It is a very common symptom to get an abnormal amount of tears that may result from the inflammation and rubbing of the eyes.
- Generally irritability: Generally patient becomes irritable due to continuous itching and uneasiness.
- Trouble falling or staying asleep: It is a symptom that appears when your eyes become distended due to continuous itching and irritability.
Treatment strategies for pink eyes:
Like all other health issues, pink eyes or conjunctivitis may be treated by using DIYs as well as medications and few precautionary measures to prevent its spread either from one eye to another or from one person to another since it is a highly contagious disease.
DIY strategies to treat pink eye:
Normally the symptoms of bacterial or viral pink eye may finish in a period of few days to two weeks almost without any kind of treatment. The symptomatic relief may be achieved by following few strategies:
Lubricating eye drops or artificial tears may be used during pink eye or conjunctivitis to prevent dryness. Once the infection finishes, the bottle may be thrown to avoid re-infecting yourself again.
Warm or cold packs of moist compresses are applied to the eyes to counter the swelling and inflammation.
The discharge from the infected eyes must be removed by using tissues or a wet washcloth.
Probiotics and dietary influence:
Taking probiotics and a diet rich in vitamins A, K, B and C may help to improve eye health and ward off infection.
Prescriptions to treat pink eye:
If the pink eye doesn’t go itself or is showing the severity of symptoms that need some medicines either over the counter or through prescription. These may include:
Herpes simplex or varicella-zoster virus may cause viral pink eye that may respond to antiviral medications.
Eye drops or ointments comprised of antibiotics may cure the bacterial pink eye.
Homeopathic remedies containing belladonna, euphrasia, hepar sulfuricum, borate, silver sulfate, and sodium nitrate tec. May be used only for adults as eye drops to soothe the symptoms of pink eye.
After treatment, how to avoid reinfection with pink eyes:
Once you have got rid of the pink eyes, then you must avoid the recurrence of pink eye symptoms by following several preventive measures. These include:
Infection causing makeup:
Any eye makeup or makeup applicators that may touch your eyes as mascara, eye-liner, etc. that may have caused infection must be thrown out to avoid recurrence of infections.
Contact lens or solution:
Any contact lenses or solution or contact lens kit you may have used during the pink eye may have been discarded or thrown out to avoid the reinfection.
Disinfecting and cleaning:
All the cases, eyeglasses, and hard contact lenses must be disinfected and cleaned to be used to avoid pink eyes.
Diagnosis of pink eye:
Although it may be easy to diagnose that you have a pink eye by your appearance of pink color, inflamed and swollen area of the eye and around the eye, irritation, itching, water from eyes, yet it needs to be diagnosed properly by a physician to get proper treatment.
- Complications for diagnosis:
Your pink eye may be viral or bacterial and may spread from your nose to your eyes depending upon the situation. You may have caught it from someone by sneeze or cough or droplets may come in contact with your eyes. Both types of pink eyes, either bacterial or viral start most often during upper respiratory tract infections as a sore throat (virus or bacteria) or cold (virus). Although bacteria can attack and spread to your eyes by touching your eyes with unclean hands, or it may be caused by contamination due to filthy makeup, or by sharing personal items with some infected persons.
- General symptoms of viral and bacterial pink eyes:
Your eyes may have pink eye either due to virus or bacteria but may have the same general symptoms as:
Change in the color of eyes, pink or red color appears in the white of eyes
Tearing feeling that may cause grittiness in the eyes
Burning or irritation in the eyes
Morning time and evening time causes crusting of eyelashes or eyelids
Excoriating discharges from the eyes
- Differentiating symptoms of viral pink eyes:
Still, few differentiating symptoms may be able to help you diagnose the symptoms of viral and bacterial infection. Here are a few symptoms that may tell you the details of viral infection.
It usually starts in one eye and spreads to the other.
It may have started with a respiratory infection or a cold.
Watery discharge from the eyes occurs due to infection.
- Differentiating symptoms of bacterial pink eyes:
The differentiating symptoms of bacterial infection may be diagnosed as:
It may start with an ear infection or a respiratory infection.
It may affect a single eye or both eyes.
Pus or thick discharge comes that may cause sticking together of eyes.
Only your physician or healthcare provider may diagnose and differentiate between a viral or bacterial infection causing pink eye by taking a sample of the discharge and testing it for the process.
Prevention from the pink eye:
Pink eye may reoccur again and one must take into account the preventive measures to stop it from recurrence.
Some of the steps to be followed to prevent pink eye development or recurrence are:
Keep hygienic: Hands may be washed throughout the day quite often using soap and water. Wash your hands always before and after using contact lenses or putting eye drops in your eyes. Always use alcohol-based hand sanitizer if water is not available. Wash your hands if by chance you come in contact with an infected person’s clothes, personal items or eyes, etc.
Avoid touching: Even if you don’t have an idea whether you have an infection or not, try to avoid touching or rubbing your eyes.
Keep usable separate: Personal items of use as blankets, towels, makeup brushes or makeup usable, towels, tissue papers, pillow covers, etc. must be separated from the infected personals.
Wash all belongings: All the belongings should be washed after each use as washcloths, towels, bedding, etc.
Clean eye equipment: Clean all eye equipment as contact lenses, glasses, lens case, glasses cover, etc.
Stay isolated: If you have pink eye, do not visit school, workplace or office, etc. to avoid its spread to other people, observe the social distance.
When to visit your doctor:
The symptoms of pink eye may or may not get better without treatment and are not chronic by any means to cause longer symptoms. Severe symptoms of pink eye may cause swelling or inflammation of the cornea. Home-related treatments can prevent the occurrence and recurrence. You can treat it by using over-the-counter drugs too. You must visit your physician if you feel any such symptoms as:
- A very painful condition of the eye
- Blurred vision, light sensitivity, or other visionary problems
- Eyes become red or swollen
- If your symptoms persist for more than a week or after twenty-four hours of using antibiotic
- If symptoms get worse than before
A weakened immune system persists as an underlying condition like cancer, HIV, or any other medicine.
How does pink eye spread?
The incubation period i.e. the period between infection occurrence and development of symptoms for the viral or bacterial conjunctivitis is about twenty-four to seventy-two hours. A pink eye infection can also spread by being passed by one person to another in the same way as all other bacterial and viral diseases do pass.
Touching something that is already infected with a virus or bacteria and then touching your eyes, it would be easy for you to develop pink eye. Most of the bacteria do survive for more than a few days on surfaces, rarely for up to eight hours. Viruses most of the time survive for a couple of days, some can last for more than two to three months on a surface.
Infection easily spreads from one person to another by following certain social and humane laws as shaking hands, hugs, kisses, etc. Sometimes unattended allergen transfer through coughing, sneezing, or such other actions may create uneasiness and later may become the reason for infection transferred from the infected one to the other.
Bacteria can live and grow on lenses easily so you become more at risk if you wear contact lenses. In such cases, you must be extra hygienic while using lenses and must keep safe and hygienic to avoid the severity of pink eye.
Pink eye in babies:
Babies even infants like adults may get pink eye or conjunctivitis and its symptoms may vary according to its severity and age of the baby as well depending upon the immune system of the baby. Some signs can be immediately noticed even when before your baby turns neon pink. Throat infection or respiratory tract infections make easy prey of children and sometimes babies and toddlers may get pink eye during or right after their ear or throat infection. Pink eye may follow a runny nose or sneezing. Significant signs and symptoms may include:
- Extremely puffy eyelids,
- Persistent red eyes,
- Running, burning watery eyes,
- Rubbing their eyes unusually,
- Excoriating stringy or crusting discharge from their eyes,
- Sleeping more than usual,
- Lazy and sluggish behavior,
- Clingier and irritating,
- Reduced appetite or none at all,
- Diarrhea, constipation, or any other changes in bowel movement.
These are the initial few signs and symptoms of a baby getting infected with a pink eye which must be noticed and be dealt with immediately.
How to treat pink eye in babies:
Approximately one to two weeks after birth, newborns become prone to get a pink eye infection. Either blocked tear duct or outside infection may cause pink eye or conjunctivitis in newborns. Sometimes the disease may have passed from the mother accidentally through a virus or bacteria that may attack the baby reaching her or him through the birth canal. These viruses and bacteria may include gonorrhea, genital herpes, or chlamydia.
Since it becomes quite risky to treat your babies yourself, you must visit a pediatrician immediately as soon as you doubt any sign or symptom of pink eye. The doctor or pediatrician may examine the eye and may recommend the necessary prescription and treatment for the child. The doctor may prescribe:
- Ointments or eye drops containing antibiotics.
- Warm compresses are applied to the eye to reduce swelling and inflammation.
- To flush the eye with normal saline to reduce excess mucus and pus buildup.
- Intravenous injections for gonorrhea.
Symptoms of pink eyes in babies:
The symptoms of pink eye may differ among babies than adults and may become more severe symptoms than adults. These symptoms may pop up at an early age at four to six initial weeks. These symptoms may INCLUDE:
- Inflamed and swollen eyelids
- Irritation or itchiness around eyes
- Pain in or around eyes
- More than usual blinking of eyes
- Extra sensitivity to light
- A clear fluid oozing out of eyes having white or yellow color occasionally
- Excoriating discharge from either one or both eyes
- Crusting layer around eyes
- Stuck in together eyelids that make it difficult to open eyes
- A sore or boil on the eyelid, sometimes in severe cases
Dos and Don’ts when you have pink eyes in babies:
Prevention is better than cure, but if you are stuck with a problem arisen in your eyes with noticeable pink eyes then you must follow certain precautionary measures for your child. These precautionary measures are not only trying to relieve the side effects and adverse effects of a pink eye but also to avoid unhealthy and unrecommendable measures suggested by certain non-professionals around you. These include:
- Anti-redness eye drops must be avoided fully since they are not medically proved sterile products. Such non-medical and non-sterile products may worsen the situation and may cause long-term damage to the eyes.
- Any kinds of foods or herbs must be avoided since they are not of medical standards and are highly non-sterile. Until or unless approved by the doctor, these should not be taken yourself.
Do you have to visit a doctor if your child has pink eyes?
Children are more sensitive than adults to every kind of infection either seasonal or allergic or else. Their eyes and eyelids are thus so sensitive to be dealt with non-serious attitude. Toddlers normally develop pink eyes which go away then in one to two days without any treatment.
Newborns and infants must always be shown to specialists for their complete diagnosis and prescription to treat their pink eye if they have. Not getting any treatment may further damage the eyes and may cause irreversible loss that must be avoided by any means.
What you can do at home if your child has pink eyes?
Pink eyes are very contagious and can easily spread from one person to another, from you to your child, or vice versa that may worsen you both. You must wash your hands frequently with soap and warm water to avoid the germs getting transfer. You must avoid touching your eyes, face, and baby’s eye and face, etc.
Generally, it’s almost impossible to get your baby or toddler to stop from touching or rubbing your eyes, face, or any infected area. Try several ways and alternatives to distract your baby at the extreme to avoid touch by allowing extra TV watching or providing them with some different toys etc.
You must follow certain steps to soothe your child from the suffering of pink eye as:
- Clean the eyes of your child regularly with soft hands to ease the discomfort and pain. It may help to clear the blocked tear duct.
- Use sterile wet compress around the eyes to comfort them. By following these steps, first, let the filtered water be boiled and then cooled at room temperature. Then you may wash your hands with soap and water. You may take some sterile cotton pads and dip them into the water, later squeeze its excess water. You must dispose of the sterile pad after one swipe. By changing the sterile pads regularly three to four times, one must continue wiping and dabbing at the eyes. Same cotton pads must not be used for both eyes.
- Have a deep checking in your laundry detergent, shampoo quality, soap criteria, towels, and other cleaning supplies around your home if your baby or toddler gets pink eyes more than once. Sometimes unknown chemicals and ingredients of certain detergents may cause sensitivity and reactions to the babies causing pink eye.
- Baby-friendly soaps and detergents, as well as natural cleaners, must be used. Babies should be dressed in soft clothing made of unbleached cotton and natural fabrics.
- Always avoid any kind of eye drops for babies.
Medical treatment if your child has pink eyes?
Pink eye in babies and toddlers can be treated depending upon how long it lasts and how severe it is. Antibiotics are needed by the bacterially infected eyes. Although babies are not recommended with antibiotics generally but in case the problem is severe, then it may be prescribed by doctors as:
- Oral antibiotics, given by mouth and are mostly liquid
- Eye drops, gels, or ointments containing antibiotics
- Intravenous antibiotics are given through a needle in a vein
In rare cases, when the pink eye is caused by a virus, allergen, or any other such irritants, then it may not be treated with antibiotics. The virally infected pink eye goes away itself after one to two weeks after completing the life cycle of the virus. If the infection occurs due to some irritant, then it would be off in a couple of days.
Reasons and causes of pink eye in babies
The background reasons for a pink eye for adults may differ a lot from the pink eye in children or toddlers. Newborns may get pink eye due to several reasons including:
- Irritation from certain irritant
- Infection either bacterial, allergic, or viral
- Certain eye drops were given to the child at the time of birth in the hospital etc.
Different kinds of bacteria and viruses may attack the infant’s eyes to cause a serious infection which must be treated immediately with the help of a physician. These infective agents include:
- Gonococcal infections
- Chlamydia infections
- HPV infections
Any infection caused by these organisms may become dangerous and must be treated on a preliminary basis.
Toddlers and older babies get pink eye from rubbing irritation and allergic reactions. Pollen allergy due to seasonal reasons or any kind of dust allergy or a year-round allergy to animal fur might become the culprit for the said. Once determined, you must get rid of drapes, carpets, and allergens from your home or avoid going to a high pollen risk area to avoid the recurrence of pink eye in toddlers.
Preventive measures to avoid recurrence of pink eye in babies
The pink eye in babies, as well as toddlers, might be treated with the help of antibiotics, pain relievers, anti-allergic, etc. You must observe some precautionary measures to avoid the recurrence of pink eye in your child. These may include:
Keep hygienic: Hands may be washed throughout the day quite often using soap and water. Wash your hands always before and after touching your baby. Always use alcohol-based hand sanitizer if water is not available. Wash your hands if by chance you come in contact with an infected person’s clothes, personal items or eyes, etc.
Avoid touching: Even if you don’t have an idea whether you have an infection or not, try to avoid touching or rubbing your eyes and then touching your baby’s eyes.
Keep usable separate: Personal items for baby use as blankets, towels, towels, tissue papers, pillow covers, etc. must be separated from the infected personals.
Wash all belongings: All the belongings should be washed after each use as washcloths, towels, bedding, etc.
Clean eye equipment: Clean all your eye equipment as contact lenses, glasses, lens case, glasses cover, etc. and then touch your baby for any purpose.
Stay isolated: If you have pink eye, do not visit school, workplace, or office, etc. to avoid its spread to other people, observe social distance and try to be away from your child as much as possible.
Avoid pollen areas: If you get the idea that your child is sensitive to pollen grains, then must avoid his/her exposure to such seasonal changes.
How long should you stay away from home or school?
The disease of pink eye is quite contagious and may easily be transferred from one person to another by slight touching on the infected surface, passing by through air transfer, etc. As long as tearing and discharge continue, everyone around the infected person is at high risk for the transfer of pink eye. IF your child is suffering from pink eye, the best solution is to completely avoid schools or daycare centers until the symptoms disappear and the child becomes normal. Most children have mild cases and they get healed up after few days.
If you have pink eye, then must avoid gatherings as a social movement, any functions or parties, offices, academies, etc. until or unless your discharge stops. If still work is unavoidable then you must take extra precautionary measures to keep all around you safe. Wash your hands thoroughly after touching any object; try to observe social distance by not shaking hands or hugs or kisses.
Although pink eye is as contagious as any cold sore it does require social distance from either picking it up or spreading it to others.
Few misconceptions about pink eye
Conjunctivitis or pink eye is a very common disease among childhood as well as elders due to several reasons as mixing clothes, adulterated makeup, viral or bacterial infection, allergic reactions, or any other unknown reason. The misconceptions related to the pink eye must be corrected by taking full information about its details and finding the right treatment by proper diagnosis and adopting preventive measures. These misconceptions are going on from one person to another creating certain myths or fictions about the pink eye which may lead to dangerous conditions sometimes. Proper diagnosis, assessment of disease properly, recommendation by the ophthalmologist, and knowledge about the facts and figures of pink eye is a must go to get rid of it properly. To avoid the reinfection of pink eye, you must adopt precautionary measures by keeping yourself hygienic and be conscious about the things that may have caused pink eye at first.
All pink eye types are contagious:
Most people guess and adapt a certain myth as a fact that only one type of red or pink eye is contagious that is the most severe of all and all others are not contagious. Pink eye can be caused by several reasons as advanced dry eyes, exposure to chemical fumes, gaseous exposure, allergies to dust or pollens or any fur or fiber, by any infection caused by a virus or bacteria. Viruses may include adenovirus etc. and bacteria attacking the respiratory attack cause pink eye very soon due to excoriating discharges from the runny nose and eyes. Only the bacterial pink eye is the most contagious one that must be diagnosed with the help of a physician only who can guide you about the type of bacteria that has caused the pink eye and also its treatment. Even with the bacterial pink eye, after a gap of two t three days, you can go back to school or work by taking all the prescribed medicines and adapting social distance to stop its spread.
Any pinkness point to pink eye:
Most individuals believe that any kind of discoloration, redness, or pinkness around the eyes indicates the presence of pink eye. The term pink eye applies only to coloration changes of the eyeball. Red-eye may be the redness due to sleepless nights, any alcohol intake, any physical injury as vein burst or artery has broken due to high blood pressure, the effect of diabetic state, from infection in the eye socket, glaucoma progressing, state of grief, any eyeball injuries, corneal abrasions, or by weeping a lot, etc., so the red-eye doesn’t necessarily refer to the pink eye. You must visit an ophthalmologist immediately if you have red and pink eyes simultaneously.
Conjunctivitis only affects children:
Although pink eye is most common in children it may affect anyone irrespective of age and gender. Children cannot observe the same precautionary measures and cannot adapt them as a lifestyle as adults can do to prevent any infection or infectious agents, thereby increasing the risk for children to get infected. Protect yourself and your child from the pink eye by keeping yourself and your child hygienic and washing your hands before coming close to your child’s eyes. Avoid sharing your usable as makeup brushes, towels, and contact lenses, towels, or any shampoo, etc. to keep the pink eye away from your child.
Crude pranks can cause pink eye:
Bacteria have many types as staphylococcus aureus and few others. Some of these types stay naturally in the human body, near the nose, in the throat, in villi of the intestine, and few other places where they grow and live. Staphylococcus lives in the nose, so a child can easily get the bacteria transferred to the eyes and other places causing the infection like pink eye. These bacteria are also found in the fecal matter and if some child releases gas onto a pillowcase, it will cause the transfer of bacteria to the persons using that pillow cover or the baby himself.
Infection can happen at first sight:
An infected individual can cause the transfer of disease with a single glance, which is the most common misunderstood myth of the time that forces people with infection to wear sunglasses all the time. However, it is a myth only and no disease can be transferred with the glance only. Its infection is not airborne, so being in a crowd doesn’t raise the chance of its transfer until or unless you touch the infected person.
Objects that come in close contact must be given attention:
Your first response to the appearance of red or pink discoloration near the eyes or in the eyes is to keep a deep look on the objects that come in contact with the eye, including bed linens, pillow covers, beauty tools, clothing items, towels, makeup kit, brushes, etc. You must get rid of the noticed objects immediately. The doctor may recommend the change of contact lenses, removal of contact lenses at all, changing the glasses, removing any contaminated eye makeup things like mascara, liner, brush or artificial eyelashes, etc. The doctor may recommend you to wash all the recent clothes, fabrics, and linens before reusing due to your disease condition. If your pink eye occurs due to any allergens or irritants, viruses or bacteria then the doctor may prescribe medications for you to be used until the infection is cured.
Pink eye can cause blindness:
Pink eye can be quite embarrassing and uncomfortable making you isolated at a certain place most of the time at home to be away from people and children not to spread the infection and keeping yourself too safe from reinfection if you are towards a cure.
The condition of the patient however is not dangerous until a specific type attacks the eyes which are very rare and uncommon. You must consult with your doctor, physician, or ophthalmologist immediately if you notice any unusual symptoms near or around the eye or you face additional allergic symptoms like rashes, fever, nausea, persistent headache, or changes in eye discharge.
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