Conjunctivitis , commonly known as pink eye , is an infection of the conjunctiva (the outer-most layer of the eye that covers the sclera ). The three most common types of conjunctivitis are: viral , allergic , and bacterial . Each requires different treatments. With the exception of the allergic type, conjunctivitis is typically contagious.
The viral type is often associated with an upper respiratory tract infection, cold, or sore throat. The allergic type occurs more frequently among those with allergic conditions. When related to allergies, the symptoms are often seasonal. Allergic conjunctivitis may also be caused by intolerance to substances such as cosmetics, perfume, or drugs. Bacterial conjunctivitis is often caused by bacteria such as staphylococcus and streptococcus. The severity of the infection depends on the type of bacteria involved.
To avoid spreading infection, take these simple steps:
- Disinfect surfaces such as doorknobs and counters with diluted bleach solution
- Don’t swim (some bacteria can be spread in the water)
- Avoid touching the face
- Wash hands frequently
- Don’t share towels or washcloths
- Do not reuse handkerchiefs (using a tissue is best)
- Avoid shaking hands