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Conjunctivitis: How Not to Get Pinkeye

Conjunctivitis: How Not to Get Pinkeye

What is conjunctivitis?
What are the symptoms of conjunctivitis?
How can I find out if I have conjunctivitis?
How can I cure conjunctivitis?
How can I avoid getting conjunctivitis?

What is conjunctivitis?
Conjunctivitis, commonly called pinkeye, is an infection of the inside of your eyelid and the outer covering of the eye. It can be caused by bacteria or a virus. Conjunctivitis is very contagious, so it is easily passed from girl to girl, girl to boy, and so on. You can get it directly from someone else or from a towel or washcloth used by someone who has conjunctivitis. And if you share eye make-up with a friend or try it on at the mall cosmetics counter, you could end up with more than just pink eye shadow on your eyelids. back to top

What are the symptoms of conjunctivitis?
The most common symptom of conjunctivitis is a puslike goo that oozes from one or both eyes. You may also notice that your eyelids are swollen and the whites of your eyes are red or pink. That's where conjunctivitis gets its nickname. Your eyes may also feel dry and gritty or itchy. back to top

How can I find out if I have conjunctivitis?
Your health professional can usually tell if you have conjunctivitis just by looking at your eyes. No special tests are needed. back to top

How can I cure conjunctivitis?
The usual treatment for conjunctivitis is to apply antibiotic drops or ointment to your eyes several times a day. It may take a day or two for the symptoms to go away. It's really important that you keep using the antibiotics for as long as your health professional recommends. If you stop the treatment as soon as your eyes look and feel healthy, the symptoms may come back.

Also, you should try not to rub your eyes. This can spread the infection to your hands and then to someone else. The best way to keep from infecting other people is to wash your hands a lot—especially after they come near your eyes. You'll want to use a separate towel from the rest of your family so you don't spread conjunctivitis to them. And forget about any mascara or eye shadow that you used before getting conjunctivitis. It's most likely infected, so just throw it away.

If you wear contact lenses, you'll need to take them out and keep them out for a while. Wear glasses until you've completely finished the antibiotic treatment and your eyes are healthy and clear. Ask your eye care professional about cleaning or replacing your old contact lenses to avoid reinfecting yourself. back to top

How can I avoid getting conjunctivitis?
Bacterial and viral conjunctivitis spread easily and quickly, like the common cold. Practicing good hygiene is the best way to avoid getting conjunctivitis. Here are some steps that may help:
  • Keep your hands away from your eyes.
  • Wash your hands frequently.
  • Use a clean towel and washcloth.
  • Don't share towels or washcloths.
  • Don't use another girl's eye make-up or eyelash curlers.
  • Avoid the cosmetics on display at the mall. If you want to sample a color, try it on the back of your hand—not your eyes! back to top
Last Modified Date: 3/16/2001
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