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Hand-washing helps avert contagious pinkeye

Conjunctivitis, better known as pink eye, is an inflammation of the lining of the eyelid and eyeball. The most noticeable symptom is an irritated pink or red eye.

Other symptoms: itchiness, a gritty feeling, watery eyes and discharge that can form a crust overnight that can prevent the eye from opening the next morning.

Pinkeye is most commonly caused by a virus, but a bacterial infection or allergies also can be to blame. In babies, pinkeye can be caused by a tear duct that is not completely opened. Most viruses go away on their own. Doctors will often recommend an antibiotic drop for a bacterial case.

Pinkeye is quite contagious. A person can be at risk of catching pinkeye if they touch someone who is infected and then rub their eyes or face. For this reason, it’s important to be vigilant about hand hygiene and to avoid touching things near someone who may be ill.

Pinkeye rarely affects vision, but if you experience blurred vision, eye pain, light sensitivity or feel as if something is stuck in your eye, seek urgent care.

If you wear contact lenses, stop wearing them as soon as you notice symptoms; if your eyes don’t improve within 12 to 24 hours, see your eye doctor.

People with bacterial pinkeye need at least 24 hours of antibiotic therapy before returning to normal activities. A viral case might require a longer recovery since there is no treatment but time. Allergic pinkeye is not contagious. Allergy medications can help. Doctors usually say to rest until you feel better.

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