Pink eye, also known as conjunctivitis or “pinkeye", can be very scary when you first experience it. You will likely feel itchy and uncomfortable, eyes look crusty and red, and be generally, well, blah.
Your conjunctiva (the white part surrounding your pupils) turns blood red or entirely pink—hence the name. But despite temporarily looking like a vampire, you shouldn't worry too much. It tends to go away after a week or so.
What else should you know to get the pink eye relief and information you’re searching for? Read on!
How contagious is pink eye?
We see many social media comments from teens and preteens asking, “How do u get pink eye?” The answer: Pink eye is easy to catch—very easy, in fact. Coughing, sneezing, or touching can spread the infection, and it can take off like wildfire in the right conditions.
So is pink eye contagious? Absolutely!
It is very common among school age kids and extremely contagious, which means that you should avoid contact with others as much as possible for the first couple of days after contracting the infection. Covering your mouth and repeatedly washing your hands with hot, soapy water can help limit it from spreading.
If you or your child has pink eye, try to limit contact with others as much as possible. That means no school or work for the first 36 - 48 hours after contracting it, which is generally the bacterial pink eye contagious period.
Consult your physician for more information—especially if the condition persists for more than five days.
What is pink eye?
For a more precise answer, pink eye is an inflammation of the conjunctiva, the clear membrane that covers our eyes.
Pink eye can stem from either a bacterial or viral infection. Telling the difference between the two isn't always obvious. Bacterial pink eye usually has more crusting form overnight. This will be from an eye discharge. Viral pink eye tends to stay in one eye, while the bacterial form usually spreads to both eyes.
You can treat the bacterial form of pink eye with antibiotics. The viral form usually just needs to run its course. But again, if you don’t see an improvement after five days, see your doctor.
Treatments for pink eye
As we said, pink eye usually goes away on its own after a few days. To help usher the bacterial form out the door and get rid of pink eye faster, there are over-the-counter antibiotic drops for pink eye that are available at most department or drug stores.
For natural remedies for pink eye at home, try warm compresses over the eyes. These can help provide some relief, as can rest and relaxation. Try to avoid TV and definitely don’t share washcloths with your compresses. This can spread the infection to others—and fast.
As you can imagine, an entire family showing the signs and symptoms of pink eye is not fun at all. As soon as you detect an infection, follow the general steps we listed, visit your family doctor if the condition persists, and you should be on the road to recovery with this annoying, but mostly harmless eye disease.
Nothing in this article is to be construed as medical advice, nor is it intended to replace the recommendations of a medical professional. For specific questions, please see your eye care practitioner.