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Conjunctivitis (Pink eye)

What is pink eye?

“Pink eye” is a colloquial term commonly used to refer to an infection or irritation affecting the eye surface and the conjunctiva, (the lining of the eyelid and the covering of the white part of the eye). The medical term for pink eye is “conjunctivitis”. Pink eye is often caused by infection with bacteria or a virus such as adenovirus. Other common causes include dry air, allergies, smoke, and chemicals.


When pink eye is caused by an infection, it can spread easily. People catch it from touching something that has been in contact with an infected person’s eye. It can also spread when an infected person touches someone else, and then that person touches their eye. If someone you know has pink eye, avoid touching their pillowcases, towels, or other personal items.

What are the symptoms?

If you have pink eye, your eye (or eyes) might:

  • Turn pink or red
  • Weep or ooze gooey liquid
  • Sore throat
  • Become itchy or burn
  • Get stuck shut, especially when you first wake up

How is pink eye treated?

Pink eye often gets better on its own in 7 to 14 days. Treatment at home includes:

  • Washing your hands often. Always wash them before and after you touch your eyes or face.
  • Use a clean, moist cloth to remove the crust. Wipe from the inside corn of the eye to the outside.
  • Put cold or warm wet clothes on your eye a few times a day if the eye hurts.
  • Do not wear contact lenses or eye makeup until the pinkeye is gone.
  • If given an antibiotic ointment or eyedrops by your doctor, use them as directed.

Pink eye is caused by a bacteria that can be treated with antibiotic eye drops, gel, or ointment.

Pink eye caused by other problems can be treated with over-the-counter eye drops normally used to treat allergies. These drops will not cure pink eye, but they can help with itchiness and irritation.

Make sure to contact your doctor and notify them of your health condition

Call 9-1-1 anytime if you think you may need emergency care. For example, call if:

  • You have pain in your eye, not just irritation on the surface
  • You have a change in vision or loss of vision
  • You have sensitivity to light or blurred vision
  • Your eye has not started to improve or begins to get worse within 48 hours after antibiotics
  • You have an increase in discharge from the eye
You can learn more about pink eye by visiting the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) Website