Pink eye or conjunctivitis is an eye disease caused by an allergy or infection. Generally this disease will go away on its own but there are steps you can take to speed up the healing and this will depend on the type of pink eye you have. Here are the steps you should know to get rid of this disease immediately.
Part 1 of 3: Types of Pink Eyes
Step 1. Determine the type of pink eye you suffer from
Conjunctivitis is caused by viruses, bacteria and allergies. All types of pink eye cause the eyes to become red, watery and itchy, but the symptoms of pink eye vary depending on the cause.
- The virus can attack one or both eyes, and individuals with this condition experience sensitivity to light. Conjunctivitis caused by a virus is the most contagious and difficult to treat. Usually patients have to undergo treatment that lasts for one to three weeks. The best way to treat viral conjunctivitis is to prevent complications.
- Conjunctivitis caused by bacteria releases yellow or green sticky discharge in the corners of the eyes. In more severe cases, the dirt can make the eyes stick together and close. One or both eyes can get the bacteria and the bacteria are highly contagious. Conjunctivitis caused by bacteria should be treated by a doctor. You may be able to treat it at home but antibiotics can shorten the duration significantly.
- Conjunctivitis caused by allergies is generally followed by other allergic symptoms including a stuffy or runny nose, then both eyes will be affected by this disease. This disease is not contagious. Conjunctivitis caused by allergies can usually be treated at home, but patients with severe allergies require professional medical care to recover.
Step 2. Know when to go to the doctor
There is nothing wrong with visiting a doctor if you experience pink eye because the doctor will provide recommendations to overcome the problem. A visit to the doctor is highly recommended if pink eye is accompanied by worrying symptoms.
- See your doctor if you have mild to severe eye pain or if you have vision problems that don't go away when the stool is removed.
- If the pink eye changes its color to very red you should seek medical attention immediately.
- Call your doctor right away if you suspect you have viral conjunctivitis, for example, caused by the herpes simplex virus or if your immune system is compromised due to HIV infection or cancer treatment.
- See a doctor immediately if bacterial conjunctivitis treated with antibiotics does not improve within 24 hours.
Part 2 of 3: Treating Conjunctivitis at Home
Step 1. Try using allergy medications
For mild allergic conjunctivitis, over-the-counter, over-the-counter oral allergy medications can provide symptom relief within a few hours to a few days. If it doesn't go away, it's likely a bacterial or viral cause.
- Try taking an antihistamine. The body reacts to allergens by producing a chemical called histamine. Antihistamines reduce allergens or stop their production altogether. Therefore, this drug stops your symptoms.
- Take a decongestant. While decongestants don't stop the allergen's effect on your body, they can treat inflammation. Therefore inflammation of the eye tissue can be avoided with this drug.
Step 2. Clean the eyes regularly
When dirt starts to build up in your eyes, clean them immediately to prevent bacteria from multiplying.
- Gently wipe the eye starting from the inner corner, next to the nose, through the entire eye and towards the outer corner of the eye. This action will clean the dirt in the tear ducts and your eyes safely.
- Wash your hands before and after cleaning your eyes.
- Use a clean cloth or tissue with each wipe to prevent dirt from getting back into your eyes.
- Discard the tissue after use. Wash the eye washcloth after use.
Step 3. Use eye drops without a prescription from a pharmacy
"Artificial tears" can relieve symptoms and clear the eye.
- Most eye drops are mild saline lubricants instead of tears. This medication can treat dry eye associated with pink eye condition as well as wash the eye of contaminants that can exacerbate and prolong viral, bacterial or allergic conjunctivitis.
- Some eye drops containing antihistamines are useful for treating allergic conjunctivitis.
Step 4. Use a cold or warm compress
Soak a clean, soft cloth in water. Squeeze to remove excess water and gently rub over closed eyes.
- Cold compresses are usually best for allergic conjunctivitis but warm compresses are more comfortable and reduce swelling caused by viral or bacterial conjunctivitis.
- It should be noted that warm compresses increase the risk of spreading the infection from one eye to the other. Therefore, you should use a clean compress for each stroke and a different compress for the other eye.
Step 5. Remove your eye contact lenses
If you wear contact lenses, you should remove them when you experience pink eye. Contact lenses can irritate your eyes, cause further complications and trap bacteria that can trigger bacterial conjunctivitis in your eyes.
- Disposable contact lenses should be discarded, if you use them when suffering from bacterial or viral conjunctivitis.
- Permanent contact lenses must be cleaned before reuse.
Step 6. Prevent transmission
Bacterial and viral conjunctivitis are both contagious and you can be reinfected after recovery if the disease has already affected other members of your family.
- Don't touch your eyes with your hands. If you touch your eyes or face, wash your hands immediately after. Don't forget to wash your hands after applying eye drops.
- Use a clean washcloth and towel every day. Change pillowcases daily during infection.
- Do not share products that come into contact with your eyes with other people. These products include eye drops, towels, cloths, eye cosmetics, contact lenses, lens cleaners or cases and handkerchiefs.
- Do not use eye makeup until the pink eye has healed. If not, you can become infected again because of these cosmetics. If any cosmetics were used when you experienced pink eye, throw them away.
- Don't go to school or work for a few days. Most people with viral conjunctivitis can return to activities after 3 to 5 days, when symptoms begin to improve. Most people with bacterial conjunctivitis can return to their activities after the symptoms disappear within 24 hours by taking antibiotics.
Part 3 of 3: Treatment with Prescription Drugs
Step 1. Although ordinary eye drops are also effective in treating pink eye, prescription drops are more effective and heal faster
- Treat bacterial conjunctivitis with antibiotic eye drops. Antibiotic eye drops are topical treatments that attack bacteria directly. Usually the infection clears up within a few days but the condition will get better within the first 24 hours. Follow the doctor's instructions for how to use.
- Treat allergic conjunctivitis with antihistamines or steroid drops. Although antihistamine eye medications can be purchased over-the-counter at pharmacies, the more potent types are prescribed by a doctor. Severe allergies are sometimes also treated with eye drops that use steroids.
Step 2. Try using an antibiotic eye ointment
Antibiotic ointments are easier to use than eye drops, especially for children.
- Note that the ointment blurs vision for 20 minutes after application but the patient's vision returns to normal after that.
- Bacterial conjunctivitis will go away within a few days of using this treatment.
Step 3. Ask for antiviral medication
If your doctor states that your viral conjunctivitis is caused by the herpes simplex virus, your doctor will likely prescribe an antiviral medication.