A comprehensive list of today's common ailments and health conditions.


By Angela Young

Pinkeye, also referred to as conjunctivitis, is an infection or irritation of the mucous membrane that lines the surface of the eye at the eyelid. It is usually caused by a virus or bacteria and is easily spread. Pinkeye should heal on its own within 7 to 10 days without medical treatment, but in some cases antiviral medication or antibiotics are recommended.

Pinkeye Symptoms

Symptoms of pinkeye can usually be determined fairly easily. The eye's reaction to the bacteria or virus generally causes one or many of the following symptoms:

  • Redness of the eye
  • Swelling of the eyelid
  • Excessive watering of the infected eye
  • Itching or burning sensation
  • Feeling that a foreign body is lodged in the eye
  • Some sensitivity to light

Pinkeye Causes

Pinkeye is highly contagious and is most commonly caused by a virus or bacteria. There are, however, other factors that may contribute. These include allergies, exposure to toxins such as chemicals, fumes or smoke, or circumstances that lead to dry eyes. A condition called red eye may lead to pinkeye as one of its symptoms. Red eye can occur when a foreign body is lodged in the eye, due to eye injury or secondary to glaucoma. Since pinkeye is so easily spread, often there are actions that can be taken to prevent this. If you or someone you know has pinkeye, the following actions are recommended:

  • Wash hands regularly
  • Do not share towels, washcloths or other items that may come into contact with the eye
  • Stay home from work or school to prevent spread of the infection

Pinkeye Diagnosis

A diagnosis of pinkeye is fairly easy since symptoms are usually apparent. More important, however, would be a diagnosis of any underlying conditions that may be causing pinkeye to occur. Chronic or frequent bouts of pinkeye may require attention. Rarely, this condition can be caused by the herpes virus, so persistent cases of pinkeye should be further examined.

Pinkeye Treatment

You have many options for treating pinkeye and the most preferable should be determined by other symptoms. Usually no treatment is required, but prevention of spread to others is imperative. You may want to seek treatment if the infection is persistent or if other factors are present or suspected. The following primary or secondary conditions leading to pinkeye should be examined by a medical professional:

  • Foreign body Ð though one of the symptoms of pinkeye is the feeling that something is lodged in the eye, this isnÕt always the case. If you discover that something is actually lodged in your eye, try an eyewash or contact a doctor for removal.
  • Red eye Ð pinkeye can be a secondary symptom to a condition called red eye. If other factors are present, including scrapes, sores, eye injury, styes or glaucoma, treatment may be necessary.
  • Herpes Ð the herpes virus can lead to pinkeye. If herpes is present or suspected, treatment may be recommended. This usually consists of a prescription for some type of antiviral medication.
  • Virus Ð when pinkeye is caused by a virus other than herpes, there are not generally any effective treatment options available. A virus causing this condition does not usually respond to antibiotics, but artificial tears or over-the-counter eye drops may provide relief.
  • Bacteria Ð when pinkeye is caused by bacteria, antibiotic eyedrops or ointment may help to speed recovery.
  • At-home remedies Ð many things can be done at home to provide relief or speed healing when pinkeye occurs. Be sure to regularly clean the eye with a warm cloth and seek treatment if your vision blurs, pain increases or your eye becomes painfully sensitive to light.

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