If you’ve ever suffered from pink eye, you know the symptoms well: red eyes; the itchy, burning sensation; swelling of the eyelids or under the eyes; and, in some cases, a greenish-yellow drainage. Pink eye, also known as conjunctivitis, is actually an inflammation of the clear membrane that covers the whites of the eye, as well as the membrane located on the inside of the eyelids.
In most cases, pink eye is extremely contagious, so you’ll need to be very cautious when treating your own case of pink eye or that of a family member. Due in part to the fact that is so contagious, pink eye is a common malady for young children because they readily pass it along to other kids.
Is It Pink Eye or Something Else?
Source – ehabkost
Before you begin a home treatment for pink eye, see your doctor. You need to be sure that it is, in fact, pink eye instead of some other problem.
Although it’s relatively rare, in some cases pink eye could be an indication of an underlying disease—another important reason to see a doctor when symptoms first develop. Sometimes people who wear contact lenses mistake red or pinkish eyes as pink eye, when it may just be irritation caused by the corrective lenses.
Another impelling reason to see a doctor first thing is that pink eye can be caused by a virus, a bacterial infection, an allergy or a reaction to chemicals. How you treat the condition depends on what caused it to begin with.
Most Common Causes of Pink Eye
- If the pink eye is caused by a viral infection, medicines are not typically used to treat the condition and you’ll have to wait it out until the infection goes away (usually in 3 to 5 days). This makes home treatment important because you’ll want to alleviate the symptoms as much as possible while you wait for the infection to clear.
- On the other hand, if the pink eye is caused by bacteria, you’ll need an antibiotic from your doctor to treat the pink eye.
- If the pink eye is caused by exposure to a chemical, you should see your doctor right away to prevent further damage to the eye.
Treating Pink Eye at Home
The first step in treating pink eye is to remove your contact lenses if you wear them, thoroughly clean the lens, thoroughly clean the case, and store the lens until the symptoms of pink eye are completely gone. Wearing contacts will only make the condition worse. If you need either contacts or glasses to correct your vision, wear glasses until the pink eye is cured.
The next step in treating pink eye is to apply either a cool compress (a clean cloth soaked in cold water) or a warm compress (a clean cloth soaked in very warm water), whichever one feels better. If there’s an infection involved, a warm compress will probably feel better and help to reduce some of the swelling. Make sure to use a clean compress each time you apply one, and never reuse the same compress. Pink eye is extremely contagious, and it’s easily spread from one eye to the other and from one person to the next. You should make sure that towels and tissues, etc., used by the infected person aren’t touched by anyone else in the family. The condition can also be passed from exposure to the infected person’s coughing or sneezing, so try to separate the person from others as much as possible, and wash your hands thoroughly after handling compresses, towels or tissues touched by the person with pink eye.
Clean the eye or eyes (pink eye can affect one eye or both eyes) several times during the day. This is particularly important if the infection is caused by bacteria, which will result a great deal of greenish-yellow drainage. Wipe the eye from the inside out, making sure to dispose of whatever is used to clean the eye.
If the condition is caused by an allergy, you might also be able to treat it with an antihistamine. Check with your doctor before giving this type of medicine to a young child.
If the pink eye is caused by a bacterial infection and is treated with antibiotics, the infected person will usually be able to return to work or school about 24 hours after starting to take the medicine. But because the condition is so contagious, you should check with your boss or the teacher/administration at school before returning. If the pink eye is caused by a virus or allergy, you should wait until the symptoms go away before returning to work or school—usually 3 to 5 days.
What to Watch For
Finally, remember to see a doctor if the condition gets worse or doesn’t go away. It’s especially important to check with your doctor if you become overly sensitive to light, experience blurred vision, feel a great deal of pain in the eye or if signs of infection appear where there were none before. While it is possible to treat pink eye at home, it’s important to make sure that you receive medical advice upfront to determine the source. It’s also important to check with your doctor later on if the condition gets worse or stays the same.
About the Guest Blogger – Mark Masters is an eye health advocate who writes for Hill Country Eye Center, an ophthalmologist in Austin TX who provides services such as LASIK surgery for vision correction, glaucoma treatment, and cataract surgery. Their state-of-the-art eye clinic is located at Hill Country Eye Center, 12171 W Parmer Lane #201, Cedar Park, Texas 78613, and Phone (512) 528-1144.