Pinkeye (conjunctivitis) is redness and swelling of the mucous
membrane (conjunctiva) that lines the eyelid and eye surface. The most common
type (adenovirus) is caused by a virus and occurs most often in adults,
occasionally causing a sore throat at the same time that pinkeye symptoms
Sometimes children with virus-caused upper respiratory infections
develop pinkeye as a separate, bacterial infection. Viral and bacterial pinkeye
are contagious and spread very easily.
Pinkeye is very common. It usually is not serious and goes away in
7 to 10 days without medical treatment. But it may last up to 3 weeks and
can become ongoing (chronic).
The symptoms usually start in one eye and may then spread to the
other eye. Besides redness and swelling in the eye, symptoms of viral pinkeye
Slight itching or burning.
and tender areas in front of the ears.
Clear or slightly thick, whitish drainage.
Home treatment helps reduce pain, keeps the eye free of drainage,
and helps prevent the spread of infection. Home treatment includes:
Washing the hands frequently and
Using warm compresses to help relieve swelling and
Changing and washing linens when they become soiled with
Not wearing contacts.
Not using eye makeup,
and throwing away old eye makeup.
William H. Blahd, Jr., MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine & Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine