Conjunctivitis, or pink eye, is an infection of the sclera, which is the outer-most layer of the eye. There are three forms of pink eye. Allergic conjunctivitis is associated with allergies and intolerance to perfumes or cosmetics. Bacterial conjunctivitis is caused by streptococcus and staphylococcus bacteria. Viral conjunctivitis is often associated with a cold, sore throat or upper-respiratory-tract infection. It usually lasts between four-to-seven days. However, you don’t have to wait for viral pink eye to heal; there are treatments for the condition.
Symptoms of viral conjunctivitis include a red eye, watery discharge and irritation. The water discharge is not green or yellow. Other signs are cold-like symptoms such as runny nose and sinus congestion. The eye can be swollen. Another symptom is discomfort in the eye, and itching can be present. In addition, the infection can start in one eye, but can spread to the other eye. Also, viral conjunctivitis is highly contagious.
Pink eye or viral conjunctivitis is similar to a cold, and it has to run its course. Usually, it takes approximately seven days for the pink eye to disappear. So, there are no treatments to cure viral conjunctivitis. However, there are treatments to deal with the pain, discomfort and other symptoms that accompany viral conjunctivitis.
Eye drops are a treatment option to reduce the symptoms. There are decongestants to reduce swelling. Also, there are vasoconstrictors that whiten the eye. Another option is antihistamine drops to reduce the itching symptom. You can use the eye drops for one-to-two weeks. The time depends on the severity of the viral pink eye.
If you are looking to smooth the discomfort from viral pink eye, then try applying a warm compress to the infected eye. You can make a warm compress by soaking a lint-free, clean cloth in warm water. Once you wring the cloth out, then gently apply it to your closed eye. However, if you want to treat the swelling associated with viral conjunctivitis, use a cold compress. This will decrease the swelling.
Use water along with cotton balls or gauze to clean around the edges of the eyelid. This will remove the dried discharge that can cause the eyelids to stick together. You can also take medication like ibuprofen and acetaminophen to relieve the discomfort or pain. Ask your doctor if you can use an antibiotic ointment if you or your child has problems using the eye drops. A thin layer of antibiotic ointment can be applied to the eyelids. The ointment will melt and enter into the eye.