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Conjunctivitis (Eye Infection)

What is conjunctivitis (eye infections)?

Conjunctivitis is a common eye condition, also known as pink eye or red eye. It can be in both eyes or just one. This eye condition happens due to an infection, allergy or other irritant affecting the conjunctiva, a thin membrane across the front of the eye.  

What are the symptoms of eye infections?

There are a number of different pink eye symptoms and they may vary depending on the cause of your eye infection.

Typical symptoms associated with this condition include bloodshot eyes, gritty eyes, and sticky eyes with a discharge of sticky pus. You may have slightly sore eyes, especially if you wake up in the morning with them glued shut from dried pus in your eyelashes.

It’s important that you seek medical advice if you experience serious conjunctivitis symptoms that don’t clear up after two weeks in case there is an underlying cause.

What causes conjunctivitis?

There are different kinds of eye infection. Bacterial conjunctivitis is caused by a bacterial infection. It’s also possible to have conjunctivitis symptoms from a viral infection too. STIs such as gonorrhea and chlamydia can also cause conjunctivitis.

Allergic conjunctivitis can be seasonal or all year round and can be caused by allergens such as dust mites, pet dander, or pollen. Irritants such as shampoo, smoke and the chlorine in swimming pool water can all also trigger conjunctivitis symptoms.

How do you treat eye infections?

There are a number of different kinds of conjunctivitis treatment. Bacterial infections can be treated by an antibiotic eye ointment or eye drops.

You can also ease your symptoms by cleaning your eyes gently with clean cotton wool and boiled water that has been left to cool. You should use a different piece of cotton wool for each eye. You can also soak some cotton wool in the cooled water and place it over your closed eyes to soothe them.

How can you try to prevent eye infections?

The easiest way to avoid eye infections is to be extra thorough when washing your hands, particularly if someone in your family has conjunctivitis. You should also avoid sharing a pillow or towel with someone suffering from an eye infection. Be sure to wash pillowcases and towels frequently too.

Conjunctivitis can spread easily amongst commuters, particularly those that travel on busy trains. If you are a commuter, avoid touching your face until you have washed your hands thoroughly. Conjunctivitis in children is also more likely to spread, so if your child has conjunctivitis they may need to stay off school until it has cleared.


Frequently Asked Questions

Is conjunctivitis contagious?

Conjunctivitis that produces sticky pus is contagious. It’s important not to share pillows and towels and to wash your hands regularly and thoroughly so as not to pass this condition on to others. Conjunctivitis caused by allergies isn’t contagious.

How long does conjunctivitis last?

In many cases, conjunctivitis will clear up by itself in about two weeks. You should speak to a pharmacist or doctor, though, to eliminate any underlying causes and to be sure that you get the correct treatment.

What causes bloodshot eyes?

Bloodshot eyes can be caused by several conditions. Conjunctivitis or a burst blood vessel are two causes. To be sure, you should get it checked by a doctor, particularly if you are experiencing pain in your eyes too.

* Please note results, timeframe and individual responses to treatments may vary from person to person. If you do need medical advice you should always speak to a doctor, pharmacist or appropriate medical professional.