Pink eye can be either caused by a viral infection or a bacterial infection. It is a contagious disease that is spread quite easily from one person to the next. The most common cause of pink eye is a virus. For this type of pink eye there is no medical treatment but there is treatment for the symptoms of the infection.
To minimize and prevent the spread one should wash hands often and ensure that they do not share items that come into contact with the eye. If you do get the infection you should refrain from going to work or school and if your child has it they should not go to school or daycare either.
There are a number of treatment techniques and methods that can be done at home without contacting a physician but contacting one is the best course of action when you have this or any other infection. The home treatment methods for pink eye generally help to reduce swelling and pain as well as to reduce the amount of drainage that is being excreted from the eye. This in turn helps to reduce the risk of spreading the infection.
If you wear contact lenses you should remove them at the first signs of a pink eye infection. Wear glasses until the infection has died and ensure you clean your contacts thoroughly before re-introducing them into the eye. The contacts are not the only things you should clean thoroughly as you should clean the storage case thoroughly as well.
When treating pink eye different treatments can work for some people but not working for others. For instance some persons find a hot compress very soothing while others find a cold compress more effective. If you will be using a compress remember that this can cause you to spread the infection from one eye to the next. Hence when you apply one compress ensure that you are only applying it to one eye. Thoroughly clean the material that you used for the compress prior to replacing it on the eye.
Whenever you go to clean your infected eye you should wipe from the inner corner outward. It is best to use disposable material such as wipes or tissue to clean your eye, and then throw them away immediately after wiping. If you use a rag you must take extra care to wash it properly so that you do not keep re-introducing the infection to your eye.
Typical treatment for pink eye ranges between three and five days. Some people may find their symptoms still present after this time period. If so you should definitely see a healthcare provider who will probably provide you with medication to treat the infection and its symptoms.
For bacterial pink eye you will get an antibiotic treatment and will be able to return to your normal activities (school and work) within 24 hours as long as there is marked improvement with the drugs.
Usually the prescribed medication is in the form of eye drops or ointment. The ointment should be applied in the same way you clean your eye; from the inner corner outward using a clean finger or cotton swab that should be disposed of afterwards.