How Long Does It Take for Pinkeye to Clear Up?

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How Long Does It Take for Pinkeye to Clear Up?
How Long Does It Take for Pinkeye to Clear Up? (Image: Public domain photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)

Pinkeye is a condition characterized by red (or pink) eyes often accompanied by a mucous discharge which may be crusty in the morning upon waking. Pinkeye is a common condition, and some varieties are extremely contagious, which is why school-age children are often infected. If you believe that you have pinkeye, you should stay home from work or school and make an appointment to see your doctor.

The Facts:

Pinkeye is a term used to describe a condition medically known as conjunctivitis. The conjunctiva is a thin protective membrane which covers the white part of the eye and the inner part of the eyelids . Pinkeye causes the conjunctiva to become inflamed and red, often causing swelling and a mucous discharge from the affected eye.

Types:

According to the Foundation of the American Academy of Ophthalmology, there are three types of pinkeye. Only a doctor can determine the underlying cause of pinkeye and how it should be treated. Bacterial conjunctivitis is caused by a bacterial infection and requires treatment consisting of medicated eye drops to clear the infection. Viral conjunctivitis is caused by a virus. The symptoms will usually go away within 7-10 days, when the virus has run its course. Both bacterial conjunctivitis and viral conjunctivitis can be extremely contagious. Allergic conjunctivitis is caused by an allergic reaction. The symptoms may be the same as for the other types of pinkeye but allergic conjunctivitis is not contagious and is cured by treating the underlying allergy causing the symptoms.

Identification:

Pinkeye should be diagnosed by a doctor so that treatment can begin as soon as possible to prevent infection from spreading (in the case of bacterial conjunctivitis.) Symptoms to look for: Red eyes Swelling of the eyelids Mucus discharge from the eye Crusty mucus on eyes upon waking Soreness or itching in the eye area Pinkeye may be present in one or both eyes and may spread from one eye to the other during the course of the illness.

Duration:

Most cases of pinkeye clear up within one to two weeks. The duration of pinkeye may be extended if the infection spreads from one eye to the other. Use disposable tissues to remove any mucus from the eye and avoid touching the eye with your fingers to prevent spreading the infection.

Prevention:

Wash your hands often to prevent pinkeye infection--especially after being in contact with an infected person. Avoid exposure to eye irritants such as dust, smoke, or chlorine which can irritate the conjunctiva. Eye makeup should not be shared, and mascara discarded after four to six months.

Warning:

When pinkeye symptoms are present, avoid wearing contact lenses and using eye makeup until the symptoms are gone.

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