How do you get pink eye? Pink eye, often called conjunctivitis, is an infection or inflammation of the transparent membrane that lines the eyelid’s inside surface and covers the eye’s white part. This tissue helps to keep the eyelid and eyeballs moist.
As tiny blood vessels in the conjunctiva become infected, they are more visible. It induces the whites of the eyes to look reddish or entirely pink.
It is commonly referred to as “pink eye” because of the eye’s red color from irritation.
Pink eyes may happen in one or both eyes. Pink eye, which occurs in both eyes, seems to be caused by a virus.
But despite looking like a vampire temporarily, you should not worry too much. It seems to go after a week or so.
What else do you have to know to get pink eye relief and the information you are searching for? Read on!
How contagious is pink eye?
Ask an eye doctor, “How do you get pink eye?” and you might get the answer: It is easy to catch. Touching, coughing, and sneezing can transmit the bacteria and take off like wildfire under the right conditions.
Is pinkeye contagious, then? Absolutely!
Pink eye is a widespread eye disorder in both children and adults. Between six million pink eye cases occur each year in the U.S.
It is extremely contagious, so you should maintain distance from others as much as possible for the first few days after the infection. Basic hygiene is enough to prevent the infection from spreading to others or your other eye. Covering your mouth and washing your hands with hot, soapy water will help prevent it from spreading.
If you have pink eye, try to avoid interaction with others as much as possible. That means no work for the first 36 to 48 hours after contracting it, normally the contagious period of bacterial pink eye.
How do you get pink eye?
Pink eye can result from many causes, including allergens, chemicals, bacteria, and viruses, such as coronavirus, which causes the common cold and COVID-19.
Several factors are to be blamed for causing pink eye. The most common causes of pink eye are:
Viral and bacterial conjunctivitis
Most cases of pink eye are usually triggered by adenovirus. Still, they can also be caused by varicella-zoster virus, herpes simplex virus, and various other viruses, including the virus that caused coronavirus disease in 2019 (COVID-19).
Both viral and bacterial conjunctivitis may occur along with colds or signs of a respiratory infection, such as a sore throat. Bacterial conjunctivitis may be caused by wearing contact lenses that are not properly cleaned or are not your own.
Both types are very infectious. They are transmitted through direct or indirect contact with the fluid drained from the eye of someone who is contaminated.
It affects both eyes and reacts to an allergy-causing agent such as pollen. In reaction to allergens, your body develops an antibody called immunoglobulin E. These antibodies trigger special cells called mast cells in the mucus membrane of the airways to release inflammatory substances, including histamines. When the body releases histamine, it can cause various allergic signs and symptoms, such as red or pink eyes. If you have allergic conjunctivitis, you will feel severe itching, tearing, irritation of the eyes, and watery nasal discharge. Allergic eye drops can control many allergic conjunctivitis.
Conjunctivitis resulting from irritation
Conjunctivitis is often associated with inflammation from a chemical splash or foreign substance in the eye. Sometimes flushing and washing the eye to get rid of the chemical or object often causes redness and inflammation.
An allergy-caused pink eye is not infectious.
Signs and symptoms, including mucosal discharge and watery eyes, typically clear up on their own after about a day.
A chemical splash in the eye can lead to irreversible eye damage. Persistent signs can also mean that the foreign body is still in your eye, possibly a scratch over the cornea or sclera.
What are the symptoms of pink eye?
They depend on the cause of inflammation. However, the most common symptoms include the following:
More sensitive to light
Redness in one or both eye
Green or white discharge from the eye
Swollen conjunctiva and lymph nodes
Stop Pink Eye from Spreading
Some conjunctivitis can spread between individuals. The following tips will prevent you from infecting other people and re-infecting yourself.
Use a clean towel or washcloth each time you wash your face and eyes.
Wash your hands often. Always wash them when you go to the bathroom, before and after you eat, or after you sneeze or cough.
Don’t touch your eyes with your hands. If you do, immediately wash your hands.
Bacteria could live in makeup. It can lead to pink eye and even a severe cornea infection. Do not use eye makeup while your eyes are contaminated. Replace your makeup if you are allergic to it. Also, do not share eye cosmetics or personal eye-care items.
Don’t share towels or washcloths.
Be sure to clean your contact lenses exactly as prescribed by your ophthalmologist.
Treatment for pink eye
Usually, pink eye treatment focuses on symptom relief. Your doctor may prescribe artificial tears, wet clothes to clean your eyelids, and cold or warm compresses to be applied several times a day.
If you wear contact lenses, it is recommended to avoid them before the treatment is over. If your lenses are removable, your doctor would likely recommend you throw out the contacts you have worn.
In most cases, you would not need antibiotic eye drops. Since conjunctivitis is typically viral, antibiotics would not help and can even cause harm by triggering a medication reaction or reducing their effectiveness in the future. Instead, the virus requires time to run its course—up to two or three weeks.
If viral conjunctivitis is caused due to herpes simplex virus, antiviral medications may be an option. It can include medications that help regulate allergic reactions, such as mast cell stabilizers and antihistamines, or drugs that help control infection, such as steroids, decongestants, and anti-inflammatory drops.
If possible, you can also decrease the severity of your allergic conjunctivitis symptoms by avoiding anything that causes your allergies.
In children and adults, pink eye can cause corneal inflammation that can affect vision. The risk of complications can be minimized by timely diagnosis and care by your doctor for eye pain, having something stuck in your eye, blurred vision, or light sensitivity.
Usually, the pink eye goes away on its own or after taking the medications that your doctor prescribes without any lasting problems. If a virus causes it, the pinkeye improves in 2 to 3 weeks. If caused by bacteria, antibiotics will aid the treatment process. As soon as you detect any inflammation, follow the general steps we mentioned, visit your doctor if the condition continues, and you should be on the way to recovery from this irritating but usually harmless eye disease. Remember that pink eyes are no more contagious than the common cold. It is okay to return to school or work if you cannot take time off— just remain consistent in practicing proper hygiene.