Pink Eye: Treatment, Causes, Diagnosis, And Prevention


Your eyes are precious organs working effortlessly to complete all the chores. It is essential to keep your eyes healthy and infection-free. They are the most sensitive of all sense organs, making them susceptible to various infections or illnesses. Pink eye is a common eye illness that affects both children and adults. It is caused by allergens and irritants, germs, and viruses, including the common cold virus and coronavirus. Treatment varies according to its cause and may include eye drops, ointments, medications, water flushes, cold compresses, and artificial tears. If you or your loved one has pink eye, do not worry. 

In this article, you will learn:

  • What is pink eye?
  • Causes
  • Symptoms
  • Diagnosis
  • Prevention
  • Difference between stye eye and pink eye
  • Stye eye treatment
  • Pink eye treatment
  • FAQs

What is Pink Eye?

Conjunctivitis is an inflammation (redness) of the conjunctiva. This transparent tissue borders the inside surface of your eyelid and the outer layer of your eye. This tissue keeps your eyelids and eyes moist. The virus can affect both eyes or a single eye at a time. 


What is the cause of pink eye (conjunctivitis)?

Pink eye occurs when the blood vessels in the membrane covering your eye (the conjunctiva) become irritated, making them more noticeable. This inflammation is brought on by:

  • Pink eye is caused by viruses, for example, in the case of the common cold or COVID-19.
  • Bacteria such as S.aureus and P.aeruginosa are common microorganisms that cause bacterial conjunctivitis.
  • Molds, pollen, and other allergens.
  • Irritants in certain shampoos, cosmetics, contact lenses, grime, smoking, and notably pool chlorine.
  • Infections spread through sexual contact that may be caused by a virus (herpes simplex) or bacterium (gonorrhea or chlamydia).
  • A foreign object in the eye.
  • Babies with blocked or partially opened tear ducts.


What are the signs and symptoms of pink eye (conjunctivitis)?

Pink eye symptoms include:

  • Redness inside the infected eye (s)
  • Tearing has increased.
  • Thick yellowish discharge that accumulates over the lashes, particularly after sleeping (in conjunctivitis caused by bacteria).
  • Additional discharge from the eye (green or white).
  • Gritty sensation in the infected eye
  • Itching eyes
  • Burning sensation (especially in the pink eye caused by chemicals and irritants).
  • Vision is hazy
  • Light sensitivity has increased
  • Eyelids that are swollen


How is pink eye diagnosed?

An ophthalmologist or pediatrician will examine the eye by conducting an acuity test (eye chart test) to determine whether your eye vision has been compromised. Pink eye is generally diagnosed based on symptoms and medical history. Other tests are rarely requested. If bacteria are suspected to be the source of the illness, or if the infection is severe, your healthcare practitioner may send a sample (cotton swab) of the fluids surrounding your eye to a lab to identify the exact organism.


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Treatment for Pink Eye

The treatment of pink eye depends on the causative factors such as:


  • Bacteria

If a bacteria has caused pink eye, you will most likely be prescribed antibiotic medication (eye drops, ointments, or pills). Within a week, the infection should clear up. Even if your symptoms go away, continue to take the medication as directed by your healthcare professional.


  • Viruses

Antibiotics are not used to cure pink eye caused by virus infection. If you're suffering from this sort of pink eye, which may last anywhere from four to seven days, you'll need to let it run its course, which can take up to fourteen days. Applying a cold compress might help ease discomfort during the day.


  • Irritating compounds

If your eyes get itchy after ingesting a chemical (shampoos, certain cosmetics, or any other chemical), rinse them for five minutes with a moderate stream of warm water. Avoid additional contact with the aggravating chemicals. Within four hours of cleaning your eyes, they should start to improve. If not, contact your doctor. 


  • Allergies

OTC (over-the-counter) eye drops containing antihistamines to suppress allergic responses or anti-inflammatory medications such as steroids or decongestants are used to treat allergic conjunctivitis. You can temporarily reduce symptoms by putting a cold compress on closed eyes or avoiding the allergens that are causing your symptoms permanently.


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  • Other factors can also cause pink eye.

Pink eye is caused less frequently by parasites that cause sexually transmitted illnesses. Hand-to-eye transfer of sexual secretions causes this route of infection. Inform your doctor if you believe you have been exposed to a sexually transmitted infection. Antibiotics are used to treat bacterial pink eye, whereas antiviral medicines treat viral pink eye.

If newborns are delivered vaginally by mothers who have sexually transmitted diseases, they may get a severe form of conjunctivitis. During the birth procedure, the infant picks up the germs. The bacterium can cause blindness. To help avoid this eye infection, it is common practice in hospitals to administer an antibiotic ointment to the eyes of every baby.

Pink eye can also be caused by autoimmune illnesses, which occur when your immune system overreacts. Get immediate medical assistance if you have a family history of autoimmune illness or any cause to suspect it.



Q. Can pink eye heal without treatment?

Mild instances of the pink eye typically do not require treatment and resolve by themselves in a few days (for bacterial infections) to two weeks (for viral infections). Pink eye produced by a virus does not necessitate treatment unless caused by the herpes simplex virus, chickenpox/shingles, or STDs (sexually transmitted diseases.) An antiviral drug may be administered in these circumstances. Antibiotics for bacterial pink eye shorten the duration of your symptoms and the time you are contagious.


Q. How can I keep the pink eye (conjunctivitis) infection from spreading?

Suppose you or your baby has bacterial or viral pink eye. The doctor may advise you to avoid going to work, school, or day-care until you are no longer contagious. Consult your doctor to determine how long that may be. If you've been taking antibiotics for twenty-four hours or no longer have symptoms, you're less likely to transfer the illness.

Maintaining good general hygiene and eye care habits can also aid in preventing pink eye. Among these practices are:

  • Avoid touching or rubbing the infected eye.
  • Wash your hands regularly. 
  • Use a new cotton ball to clean any discharge from your eyes twice daily. After that, throw away the cotton ball and thoroughly wash your hands with soap and warm water.
  • After administering eye drops or ointment to your or your child's eye, wash your hands.
  • Personal goods such as cosmetics, contact lenses, towels, and mugs should not be shared.


Q. What can I do to reduce pink eye (conjunctivitis) symptoms?

Because many occurrences of pink eye are minor, you may usually get away with treating symptoms at home until the problem clears up. "Artificial tears" eye drops may help reduce itching and burning caused by irritants.

Other treatments to cure pink eye (conjunctivitis) symptoms include:

  • Wear your contact lenses until your symptoms subside.
  • Apply cool compresses to your eyes and avoid sharing washcloths or towels.
  • Wash your eyes with medicated soap or baby shampoo and rinse with water to eliminate irritating chemicals.


Q. What can I expect if diagnosed with pink eye?

Pink eye is highly infectious, whether caused by a bacterial or viral illness. The good news is that it is typically not a life-threatening condition. Depending on your disease severity, you or your child can return to day-care, school, or job as soon as the infection clears, which might take a few days to one to two weeks. Suppose you have pink eye due to allergies. In that case, it is not contagious, and you can resume regular activities anytime.

The majority of mild to moderate pink eye symptoms resolve on their own without treatment. Treatment is frequently required if pink eye is severe, as it can decrease the time you feel symptoms and transmit the infection to others.


Q. Is it possible for pink eye to relapse?

Pink eye might return, especially if it is allergy-related. Your eyes may respond every time you come into touch with an allergen (a chemical that causes allergies). You can potentially re-infect yourself if you have bacterial or viral pink eye. Consider the following precautions to avoid contracting another bout of infectious pink eye:

  • Use hot water and detergent to wash your bed linens, pillowcases, towels, and washcloths. Change it often.
  • Wearing eye makeup should be avoided until the illness has cleared up. Remove any old eye makeup and any makeup worn soon before the disease began.
  • Instead of contact lenses, use glasses. Clean your glasses often.
  • Dispose of disposable lenses. Clean all eyeglass casings and extended wear lenses thoroughly. Only use sterile contact solution. Ensure cleanliness of hands before touching the lens.
  • If you've used eye drops to treat an infected eye, don't use them on a non-infected eye.


Q. When can I return to work after the pink eye is resolved?

As soon as your symptoms subside, you should be able to return to day-care, school, or job. It might happen as quickly as twenty-four hours following antibiotic therapy for a bacterial illness and two and seven days after a viral infection. Yellowish discharge or crusting on eyelashes or in the corners of the eyes should be absent in you or your child's eyes. Pink should also be removed from the eyes. Check with your healthcare provider and facilities to see when it is safe to return and if there are any particular "return to" criteria. You do not need to stay at home if an allergy causes your pink eye.


Q. What is the distinction between pink eye and a stye eye?

Pink eye and stye have a few similar symptoms, such as redness, sensitivity to light, and crusting along the eyelids. These two illnesses, however, are distinct and have distinct causes. A stye is a red, painful lump that occurs on or within the eyelid along the lash line due to inflammation of the eye’s oil glands from allergens. Several microscopic oil glands are on your eyelids, particularly near the eyelashes. These tiny openings can get clogged or blocked due to dead skin, debris, or oil buildup. Bacteria can thrive inside a blocked gland and cause a stye to form.

Whereas, pink eye is caused due to viral or bacterial infection that causes an infection of the lining of the eyelid (the outer coating of the eye). Pink eye does not produce lumps in the eyelid or around the eye. Stye eye treatment includes using a warm compress which helps bring the pus to the surface and aids the pus and oil in dissolving so that the pus can be drained out naturally. In terms of medication, the treatment largely remains the same, such as using OTC eye drops and medicated soaps.


Q. How can I get rid of under bags?

Under-eye bag treatment includes laser resurfacing and chemical fillers. Also, facial peels can help rejuvenate the under-eye region. 



The eye is the most sensitive part of the human body, processing millions of sensory inputs and giving us vision. It is vital to take care of your eyes. That’s why brings you all the required information to keep your eyes healthy and keep them from any infection or illnesses. Pink eye is rarely severe, and the good news is that it is highly curable and preventative. Pink eye can cure on its own without treatment unless it is extreme. Treatment for bacterial or viral pink eye, on the other hand, can reduce the period you or your child will be infectious. Use a cold compress to ease discomfort during recovery.

The best thing you can do is take the required precautions to avoid transmitting the infection to others or contacting it again. However, we recommend you always get in touch with your healthcare practitioner if you have any questions or concerns or in case of severe symptoms.