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Causes and Symptoms of Pink Eye

While pink may be the color of all things cute and pretty, a pink eye is neither of the two. It is uncomfortable, painful and contagious, which is why it should be diagnosed and treated early on.

Statistics show that about 6 million people in the US get pink eye every year, which makes it fairly common but still pretty inconvenient.


What Exactly is Pink Eye and What Does It Look Like?
Also known as conjunctivitis, pink eye is an eye infection that causes inflammation of the transparent membrane. You can’t see this membrane, but it covers your eyelid and also the white bit in your eyeball.


Since there are tiny blood vessels in the membrane, the infection causes them to become more visible, creating a pinkish or reddish hue in your eyes.


Other than a literal pink eye, you may notice some visible swelling, more tears, itching, irritation or a burning sensation. You may also constantly feel like something’s got in your eyes. Some people may also get some sort of discharge like pus or mucus and experience crusting, mainly in the mornings.


Since there are quite a few types of conjunctivitis, some symptoms may vary depending on the type and the cause. For instance, allergic conjunctivitis will probably occur in both eyes rather than one, and in the viral type, the discharge is mostly watery and not very thick.


What Causes A Pink Eye?
Like most infections, conjunctivitis or pink eye is also often caused by bacteria. However, there can be countless other reasons. For instance, it could be viruses, similar to the ones that cause the common cold. Or the inflammation could be a reaction to an irritant like chlorine, shampoo, smoke, or even certain eye drops. Pink eye could also be caused by contact lenses or by fungi or other parasites.


Or in some rare cases, conjunctivitis can be brought on by other illnesses, for instance, STDs. Chlamydia is known to cause conjunctivitis and so is gonorrhea. And while other types are not that dangerous, the one you get from gonorrhea is pretty dangerous and can threaten vision as well.


Since pink eye is highly contagious, one of its leading cause is simply close contact with another infected person.


What Should I Do in Case I Get Pink Eye?
The incubation period for most pink eye types is around 24 to 72 hours. And it remains contagious from the moment symptoms appear to the point where the last symptoms disappear. So ideally, you should avoid public spaces, especially if your child gets it, then they should stay home from school.


If you do need to go out, it’s important to remember to take precautions such as meticulously washing hands and so on.


Additionally, you should see a doctor right away and start the medication to deal with the symptoms and irritation.


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