When the white of the eye becomes pink or red, it’s called ‘pink eye.’ Conjunctivitis is the medical name for ‘pink eye.’ The conjunctiva is the membrane that covers the white part of the eye. It becomes pink when it is infected or irritated. Conjunctivitis can be caused by several different or a combination of different things: a virus, a bacteria, or even allergies. Sometimes it can be challenging to tell the difference between these different causes!
Symptoms of viral conjunctivitis are:
Symptoms of allergic conjunctivitis are:
Symptoms of bacterial conjunctivitis are:
Sometimes conjunctivitis that begins as viral or allergic, can develop a secondary bacterial infection requiring antibiotic drops. Good hand washing, cleaning the eye with warm water and a cotton ball, and avoiding rubbing eyes, if possible, is a good way to help prevent this. Viral or allergic conjunctivitis does not need antibiotic drops and treating with antibiotics will not shorten the duration of the symptoms.
A small amount of pus in only the corner of the eye is likely not concerning and is due to an irritant or virus. Larger amounts of pus, or thick discharge from eyes, likely needs treatment with antibiotic drops.
Often, in babies and small children, bacterial conjunctivitis can be associated with a concurrent bacterial ear infection. Symptoms of ear infection to watch for could include fever, fussiness (especially when laying child on back due to increased pressure in the eustachian tubes), prolonged cold symptoms such as congestion and runny nose, and night waking.
Other reasons to call the office are: