Pink eye or conjunctivitis is an inflammation of the lining around the white portion of the eye and conjunctiva (an area inside of the eyelids). There can be several causes of the term “pink eye”.
But, doctors usually use the term mostly for the most contagious form of infections — viral conjunctivitis.
But, here we will be discussing two forms of conjunctivitis, their causes, and treatment options available.
It is a type of conjunctivitis that is caused by bacteria. Like any form of pink eye, this form is also one of the common types but not at all serious. This type of infection mostly affects infants, toddlers, or children who come under preschool age.
One can find more than 5 million cases of bacterial conjunctivitis in the United States. Not only that, one in eight children gets affected by the infection every year.
Bacterial conjunctivitis usually is characterized by the discharge of mucus-containing fluid from or near the eyelid area.
What Causes Bacterial Conjunctivitis?
There are many types or forms of bacterial strains that can be causing conjunctivitis. Here is a list of some of them that might be primarily responsible for the same.
- Staphylococcus aureus
- Staphylococcus epidermidis
- Streptococcus pneumonia
- Haemophilus influenzae
If the cause of your pink eye is chlamydia or gonorrhea, it might be serious and might require immediate attention by a doctor.
What Does Bacterial Conjunctivitis Symptoms Include?
In the case of bacterial conjunctivitis, either one or both of your eyes might get affected. Mostly, one can see the following symptoms associated with bacterial conjunctivitis.
- Reddish eyes
- Burning or itching in the eyes
- Mild pain or discomfort along with a sensation of grittiness
- Sticky discharge from the eye
- Swollen eyelids
- Watery eyes
- Sensitivity of light
- Swollen lymph nodes
It does not affect any person’s vision if the symptoms are mild. But, one might feel slight blurriness during the build-up of discharge.
Do You Need to See a Doctor For Diagnosis of Bacterial Conjunctivitis?
When symptoms are in its initial stages, you do not need any doctor’s recommendations and things get fine without seeing a doctor. However, if things get out of hand, you need to see a doctor for prescribed medications.
How to Treat Bacterial Conjunctivitis?
The cases in mild form can clear within one or two weeks by itself without any medical interventions.
You can use the following remedies to clear out any discomfort related to conjunctivitis.
- Clean the discharge using a clean cloth or sterile cotton wool.
- Apply any lubricating eye drops or OTC drugs for your eye. You must care about your eyes whether or not you will be using any OTC medicine.
- Use cold or warm compression technique using a clean cloth to clear out any extra discharge.
- If you wear contact lenses, make sure to avoid them until your infection clears.
Here’s How Antibiotics Can Help With Bacterial Conjunctivitis
You can go for eye drops or ointments that might help you clear out the infections. Although you won’t need any of that if you are dealing with mild bacterial conjunctivitis.
Eye drops are usually recommended as compared to any ointments for reducing the symptoms significantly.
However, if the cause of your pink eye is either gonorrhea or chlamydia, then you will need a course of oral or injectables.
This form of pink eye is more prevalent among older children or adults. It is one of the most contagious forms and is often characterized by watery discharge. There are many reasons for developing this infection. Let’s discuss the reasons and other options one by one.
There are two types of conjunctivitis that might be affecting you. Either it can be pharyngoconjunctival fever, in which symptoms might include sore throat, fever, and headache.
Other than that, epidemic keratoconjunctivitis which is a less severe or common type of infections affects the cornea and might cause vision disabilities
What Causes Viral Conjunctivitis?
The most common cause of viral conjunctivitis is when a group of viruses, namely adenovirus that are also the leading cause of upper respiratory tract infections. It might not cause any complications.
Other causes of viral conjunctivitis include-
- Herpes Simplex Virus
- Herpes Zoster Ophthalmicus
- Molluscum contagiosum
- Infectious mononucleosis
Conjunctivitis caused by some of the mentioned viruses namely herpes or herpes zoster can be severe or highly contagious and might require some special treatment to prevent any further complications.
What Does Viral Conjunctivitis Symptoms Include?
Viral conjunctivitis often starts from a single eye and spreads to the other in one or two days. The following are some of the symptoms associated with this infection.
- Redness in the eyes
- Burning sensation or mild pain
- Discomfort in the eyes
- Watery discharge that can be sometimes included with mucus
- Forming of crust around eyelids
- Swollen eyelids
- Lymph nodes swelling in front of the ears.
- Runny nose, sore throat or cough
All of this might cause slight blurriness or discharge build up around the eye. If the symptoms are severe, it might cause impaired vision.
Do You Need to See a Doctor For Diagnosis of Viral Conjunctivitis?
You don’t need to see a doctor when things are in its mild stages. It can easily get fine at home. However, if there is any uncertainty or if your symptoms are severe, you should see a doctor.
Here are some of the conditions where you need to call a doctor as soon as possible.
- Pain does not dissolve
- Eyes are extremely red
- You are unable to open one eye
- Extreme sensitivity to light
- When the discharge contains a lot of pus
- If you are unable to see things clearly over a period.
How to Treat Viral Conjunctivitis?
You can use different approaches to deal with viral conjunctivitis. For mild cases, you need only 1-3 weeks to clear all the issues without any medical treatment. There are many over the counter drugs and home remedies available to relieve any mild symptoms associated with viral conjunctivitis.
Here are some of the options available.
- You can use cold or warm compression method using a clean cloth.
- Gently clear the discharge around your eyes using a sterile cotton wool.
- You can also use OTC lubricating eye drops, also referred to as artificial tears. Don’t use the same drops for other eyes if only one eye is infected.
- Go for antihistamines or decongestant eye drops that are available without any prescription to alleviate irritation in the eyes.
- Don’t use contact lens until any infection is cleared.
If the number of outbreaks is more, avoid going to school or the workplace. Otherwise, you need to stay at home for mild infections.
Here’s How Antibiotics Can Help With Viral Conjunctivitis
Ideally, no doctor prescribes any antibiotics for viral conjunctivitis. However, sometimes depending on the severity of the symptoms some topical or oral medications can be recommended.
This usually happens in the following cases-
- When the symptoms are severe or the infection is caused by herpes simplex virus
- When the symptoms don’t reduce or go away after the recommended time.
- When the patient has a weak immune system.
- When the infection occurs in newborns.
Viral vs. Bacterial Conjunctivitis: A Summary
Viral conjunctivitis spreads from nose to eyes usually transmitted by a virus. On the contrary, bacterial conjunctivitis spreads from the respiratory system or skin to the eyes. You can catch the bacterial pink eye if you touch your eyes with dirty hands or use makeup contaminated with bacteria.
The similarities in both of the infections is that they start from an upper respiratory tract infection. Other than that, both have some similar symptoms as well.
- Pink or red-colored eyes
- Watery eyes
- Itchy sensation
- Swelling in the eyes
- Burning or a feeling of grittiness
- Discharge from the infected eyes
Here is how viral conjunctivitis and bacterial conjunctivitis are different from one another.
- Viral one starts in one eye and then spreads to the other. However, the bacterial one spreads to both or only one eye at a time.
- A viral pink eye usually spreads via cold or respiratory infection. On the contrary, bacterial one spreads via ear infections or respiratory tract infections.
- Viral conjunctivitis causes watery or clear discharge while bacterial conjunctivitis makes eyes sticky with mucus laden discharges.
You can talk to your healthcare specialist and let them inform you whether you have a bacterial or viral infection.
How to Prevent Pink Eye Infection From Spreading?
When it comes to pink eye treatment, a lot of attention needs to be given to the cleanliness. As such eye infections spread easily if things are not washed properly.
Here is how you can keep things clean around you.
- Wash your hands using warm soap water before and after eating
- When infected make sure to clean the discharge several times a day. Never use the same cloth or cotton ball.
- Wash or change your pillowcases during the period of infection.
- Never rub your infected eye. Always use tissue papers or wipes
- Don’t share or wear makeup during infection. Also, avoid using contact lenses during infection.
How to Find a Doctor for Pink Eye Treatment?
You can directly contact your family doctor or healthcare practitioner for alleviating the symptoms. However, if you are unable to find one for yourself, then contacting an online doctor might be helpful.
For example, Online Medical Clinics can provide you with the right consultations via HIPAA compliant video call. Start with a prequalification form and consult a board-certified doctor right away for your pink eye treatment.