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Pink eye is a really common eye infection that a lot of people get at some point. It isn’t serious, but it is contagious, and there are many ways to deal with it if you or a family member get it. 

Real quick note on prevention: Wash, wash, wash your hands.

What is Pink Eye?

Conjunctivitis – pink eye – is merely what happens when the conjunctiva gets irritated. The conjunctiva is a clear tissue that you may or may not even have been aware of. When it’s not inflamed, you wouldn’t know that it covers everything from the white part of your eye to the inner eyelid. What happens when chlorine, shampoo, bacteria, or any other irritant makes it angry is it turns pink.

Children are most likely to get it due to the time spent with other kids. It’s highly contagious once it gets going. In fact, it’s right up there with “head lice” as the two words no mother wants to hear from school or daycare.

Quick Note: Teach your kids to wash those tiny, cute little hands often.

Signs and symptoms

While it varies between people and cause, the basic symptoms are:

  • Puffiness
  • Redness
  • Excessive tears
  • Itchiness
  • Discharge that goops up and seals your eyelids shut or makes them hard to open
  • Light sensitivity
  • Burning
  • Blurred vision

Seems pretty easy to determine all on your own right?

But What Type of Pink Eye?

Eyes are super important and our body protects them as such. Just about anything can irritate and inflame them. It’s your eye’s way of coping with trauma, but there are really three main types of pink eye you should be aware of.


This type of pink eye is the most common. It is what most people think of when they hear the words “pink eye”. It spreads really easily because you may not even realize you have it. Your eyes are a little itchy, maybe there is some light sensitivity, but then comes watery discharge. Viral means you just have to let it run its course and make sure everyone’s hands are clean.


If bacteria gets into your eye, you will have a very noticeable pink eye situation. No watery discharge from a bacterial infection. This discharge will be thick, green or yellow. It is also very contagious but usually goes away in a few days. The good news here is that there are antibiotics that can help it go away sooner. Just make sure everyone’s hands are clean.

Allergic Conjunctivitis

Congratulations! We are past the contagious pink eyes. This has similar symptoms to the other two super-contagious kinds, but can be helped with allergy medication. But just to be safe, make sure everyone washes their hands.

Home Remedies

First of all, if you think you have pink eye, see a doctor. You can absolutely wait it out, but you are exposing others to a potentially contagious thing. If you can’t get to a doctor right away, or you are able to stay in for a few days, here are a few things that may help you feel better. To keep it from spreading, make sure everyone’s hands are clean.

  • Warm compresses can alleviate the discomfort of swelling, and could even get some of the discharge out faster.
  • Keep your hands away from your eyes even though it’s really hard. You want to scratch the itch and wipe the goop, but that’s a recipe for misery. Touching your eyes can not only make them angrier but introduce new things for them to fight.
  • Don’t wear your contacts for the duration. This seems like a pretty obvious rule if you have glasses, but not all contact wearers do. It’s really not going to get better if you keep wearing contacts. Switch to a new pair when it’s over as well.
  • Wash your hands again and again. Fun fact, you can catch your pink eye again so limit the potential for it spreading by staying home. Spray doorknobs and other common things you touch like it’s your job.

When to See the Doctor

If you waited it out, but it’s been a week and things are still bad or worse then don’t put it off. If at any time you develop a fever or any other symptoms unrelated to your eyes, go to a doctor. A sinus infection can give the illusion of pink eye as can other serious illnesses that require medical attention. Also, wash your hands.

Dr. Joseph Cohen O.D.
Woodland Hills Optometrist
Get excellent service on a comprehensive eye care
(818) 345-3937
Providing service in English and Farsi
19737 Ventura Blvd., Suite 201, Woodland Hills, CA 91364