Pink Eye/Infective Conjunctivitis
Conjunctivitis is an infection in the membrane lining the eye and inside the eyelids, called the conjunctiva. The eye becomes red, sticky or watery, and can be itchy, sore and uncomfortable. The infection can affect one eye or both eyes.
Infection can be caused by a virus (such as the common cold virus, the flu virus and many others) or, less often, by bacteria. Conjunctivitis is not normally serious and in many cases gets better on its own. Some people notice that they have a cold, sore throat or feel unwell at the same time.
Most infections will clear up on their own. Viral infections do not respond to antibiotics and the infection may last two to three weeks before the body’s natural immunity is able to clear the virus – just like when we have the flu. Clean any discharge/crusting away with a cotton pad and water. Antibiotic drops and/or lubricating drops may be prescribed for a short course. In a very small number of cases, in which there is a severe virus infection, anti-inflammatory steroid drops may be needed.
Virus infections are very contagious (catching) and spread by contact with infected tissues, towels, pillowcases and even door handles and also by droplet spread through sneezing and coughing. Washing hands frequently and not sharing towels/pillows is important to reduce the spread. Nurseries and schools may not allow children to attend whilst they have an infection.