Conjunctivitis, or pink eye, can be caused by a number of issues including bacterial and viral infections or allergies. This condition causes redness, irritation, inflammation and itchiness in either one or both of the eyes. At Silver Falls Dermatology, our providers offer effective treatment and advice regarding conjunctivitis. We are available through many locations in Oregon and Washington.
What is Conjunctivitis?
Conjunctivitis is more commonly known as pink eye. This condition is the result of inflammation or infection in the eye. Patients with conjunctivitis will experience swelling and inflammation of the transparent membrane, or conjunctiva, which lines the eyelid and a portion of the white of the eye.
What Causes Conjunctivitis?
Conjunctivitis may be caused by a viral or bacterial infection, allergic reaction or irritation.
Most cases of conjunctivitis are caused by adenovirus, but they can be caused by other viruses including herpes simplex, varicella-zoster or COVID-19. In many cases, conjunctivitis may co-occur with a cold or respiratory infection. It can also be caused by wearing contact lenses that are not properly disinfected, resulting in a bacterial infection.
Some patients may also experience conjunctivitis caused by allergic reactions. In these cases, common allergens (such as pollen) cause the mucous lining of the eyes to swell.
Finally, irritation can cause conjunctivitis. This is typically the result of a foreign object or chemical splash in the eye. These cases of conjunctivitis typically clear within a day assuming the foreign objects are removed or chemicals are thoroughly flushed.
Conjunctivitis symptoms may affect one or both eyes. Common symptoms include:
- Irritation or a gritty sensation in the eyes
- Discharge or crusting from the eyes
Conjunctivitis Treatment Options
Most conjunctivitis treatments are focused on relieving symptoms. In rare cases of bacterial infections, antibiotics can also be prescribed. Conjunctivitis due to herpes simplex can be treated using appropriate antiviral medications. Allergic conjunctivitis may be addressed through antihistamines or other allergy medications.
Your provider will likely recommend using artificial tears and applying cold or warm compresses to the affected eyes to relieve symptoms. They will also instruct you to clean the eye regularly and avoid wearing contacts or makeup. With proper care, conjunctivitis will typically clear within a few weeks.