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Pink eye symptoms can be relieved with over-the-counter treatments. But it’s important to see a MinuteClinic(r) provider to make sure you don’t have a more serious case of conjunctivitis, like:

Home remedies may soothe the symptoms, but they can’t speed healing or cure the infection. Nurse practitioner Shaneeka Rice, CNP, explains why.

1. Visit the Eye Doctor

When you’re suffering from pink eye, it’s important to see a healthcare professional right away. You may need prescription medicine to get it under control, and your doctor can advise you on at-home remedies for both viral and bacterial conjunctivitis.

You can treat mild cases of pink eye with cool or tepid water rinses, artificial tears, and cool or warm compresses. If your eyes are swollen or itchy, acetaminophen (like Tylenol(r)) or ibuprofen can help reduce the pain and inflammation. And if your pink eye is caused by allergies, you can ease symptoms with antihistamines like Zyrtec(r).

Infectious conjunctivitis can cause a thick yellow pus-like discharge that’s usually sticky and can lead to hard crusts around the eyes that make it difficult to open your eyes or see clearly. Your doctor can prescribe antibiotic eye drops to treat this type of pink eye.

Viral conjunctivitis is a lot less serious, and you can treat it at home with artificial tears and cold or tepid water rinses. You should also replace your contact lenses and throw out dirty cases, saline solution, and pillowcases to prevent reinfection.

If you or your child are experiencing vision changes, it’s important to see a health care provider right away. It could be a sign of a more serious condition, such as a stroke or brain tumor, and your provider can refer you to a specialist.

A health care provider can diagnose pink eye based on your symptoms and conduct a quick eye exam to confirm the diagnosis. They can also recommend over-the-counter or prescription medications to treat your condition, including lubricating eye drops, allergy eye drops, and antibiotic or antiviral eye drops. You can also get medication through Sesame, which allows you to connect with a doctor online and have your prescription delivered to your door or ready for same-day pickup at the pharmacy of your choice. You can even use the app to schedule appointments at a MinuteClinic(r) location near you. It’s a fast and convenient way to get the help you need to feel better!

Visit the Eye Doctor

2. Go to the Optometrist

When a patient experiences the telltale goopiness and itching of pink eye, they should call their trusted provider right away. While it can feel uncomfortable, pink eye is rarely serious and does not affect long-term vision. However, it is highly contagious. It spreads easily from person to person through touching the eye, coughing, sneezing or sharing towels and washcloths. Children with pink eye may need to stay out of daycare until their symptoms clear up and are no longer contagious.

The optometrist can determine what type of pink eye the patient has and how best to treat it. This will depend on whether it’s bacterial or viral, or caused by an allergy or contact with an irritant. In general, antibiotic eye drops or ointments are the most effective treatment for bacterial pink eye. They can help improve your symptoms and make you less contagious within a few days.

Viral conjunctivitis can be more difficult to treat. It often begins in one eye, but can spread to both eyes quickly. It may also be accompanied by a runny nose, sore throat or fever.

Antiviral medication may be prescribed for this type of conjunctivitis, as well. These medications usually do not cause the same side effects as antibiotics. The doctor may also recommend that you stop wearing contacts until the symptoms are gone and clean your contact lens storage case.

Chemical- or food-induced allergic conjunctivitis is common in people who wear contact lenses, and can be prevented by washing the chemicals off your eye with water and avoiding contact with them until your symptoms are gone. Inhaled irritants like cigarette smoke, air pollution or chlorine from swimming pools can also trigger this type of reaction.

A tender, red bump on the corner of the eyelid can be a symptom of a stye, a bacterial infection that results from a clogged oil gland. This can cause inflammation and itching, and may be accompanied by a swollen eyelid or a hard crust that makes it difficult to open the eye. This type of pink eye can be difficult to treat, but warm compresses and over-the-counter artificial tears can provide relief.

3. Go to the Pharmacy

When you’re dealing with a condition like pink eye, it’s important to see your doctor as soon as possible. This is especially true if you have other symptoms that could indicate something more serious, such as vision changes. It’s also a good idea to contact your doctor if you’ve been exposed to an irritant, like acid or alkali, or you’re concerned about the possibility of an infection from a sexually transmitted disease, like chlamydia or gonorrhea.

The most common type of pink eye is viral conjunctivitis. This is a mild form of the condition that’s similar to the symptoms of a common cold. It typically spreads through the germs, sneezing or coughing of an infected person. Viral pink eye must run its course, and there’s no specific treatment for it.

Bacterial conjunctivitis is another form of the condition. It’s typically caused by bacteria that’s found on a person’s skin or in their respiratory system. It can be spread through touching the eyes or nose, sharing personal items like eye makeup or contact lenses or poor hand hygiene. It’s highly contagious and it’s one of the leading causes of children staying home from school or daycare.

Both bacterial and viral forms of the condition can cause a lot of pain, itching and swelling. They can also produce thick, yellow-green or brown discharge and can cause the eyelashes to stick together. Viral pink eye usually accompanies cold-like symptoms, like a runny nose and sneezing.

Home remedies for conjunctivitis can help to ease discomfort and support the body’s natural healing process. However, it’s important to remember that antibiotic ointments and eyedrops are only available by prescription. If you have pink eye, throw away any eye makeup you have and do not use contacts until the ointment or drops have cleared your eyes. You should also avoid putting any food or herbal extracts in your eyes, as they can make the situation worse. You can find many home remedies for pink eye on the Internet, but it’s best to talk to a healthcare professional to ensure you get the right treatment.

4. Go to the Doctor’s Office

It is important to visit a doctor’s office as soon as you can to receive treatment for pink eye. This helps to prevent a serious infection that could lead to permanent eye damage and vision loss. Your doctor may also prescribe an eye drop, ointment or medication to help you heal faster and clear up the infection.

To determine what is causing your or your child’s pink eye, the doctor will examine your eyes and ask about your symptoms and medical history. They will also do an acuity test to check your vision.

The type of pink eye you have will affect how long it takes to treat it. Minor cases of viral and chemical conjunctivitis can usually be treated at home, while severe allergic and bacterial infections require treatment by a doctor.

Some things that can indicate the type of pink eye you have include the amount of discharge, the color or tint of the eye’s whites and whether it is in one or both eyes. A lot of pink eye discharge is typically a sign of a bacterial infection, while a salmon-colored tint and the fact that it is in both eyes suggests a viral infection.

If you have mild bacterial pink eye, it will often clear up on its own within a few days, but antibiotic eye drops or ointments are sometimes prescribed to speed up the healing process. It is also important to throw away any eye makeup or applicators that you used while infected, and to wash your pillowcases and towels daily. If you wear contact lenses, remember to properly clean them and avoid sharing them with other people until you are fully healed.

It’s also a good idea to visit a MinuteClinic if you have severe symptoms or are a chronic sufferer of an immune system-weakening condition, like HIV. It’s also a good idea to see your doctor if you have any symptoms that aren’t normal, especially if they’re new or unusual.

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