Pink Eye - The Basics

Pink Eye is medically termed as Acute Conjunctivitis (itis means inflammation)

The conjunctiva are the undersides of your eyelids. In pink eye, the white (sclera) become red and irritated, but the inflammation is from the eyelid vessels. 

The three main causes of Acute Conjunctivitis are:

1. In Children - Bacterial- mostly from Staphyloccoccus Aureus (naturally inhabits our skin) - it is most commonly associated with the yellow crusting. (nice). Starts in one eye, and can pretty quickly move to the other. 


2. In Adults - Viral - mostly from the adeno (cold or flu) virus. (less crusting). Starts in one eye and several days later can move to the next eye. 

This version is highly contagious & takes twice as long to recover from, on its own (there is no medicine to make it go away) 8-12 days of contagiousness and ~ month before complete resolution. It needs more awareness of hand hygiene. (Especially for Healthcare providers, who tend to go back to work early)


3. In Adults - Allergic - usually shows in both eyes and is very watery. Not infectious. 


Bacterial Pink Eye usually resolves on its own within 2-5 days. If it doesn't, it is wise to treat with Eye drop Antibiotics, (Polysporin makes eye drops - that are safe, and help if the immune system doesn't do its job). 


If it's viral or allergic, the Poly won't help.


Telling the difference between them, other than by guessing through symptoms can only be done via lab culture and assay, which could take more time than it does to heal.



1. Wash your hands (especially after sports or in gyms, or meetings, or touching computers)

2. Try not to rub your eyes. and eat properly during cold & flu season. 

3. If you interact with many people in your work day, get the diagnosis, a doctor's note, and stay home until you are not contagious. 

4. If staying home is not an option, take the recommended treatment (if there is one). It's never a nice thing to infect other people.

Clean cold compresses (with or without eye herbs) over the eye are great for symptom relief.