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How to Diagnose, Treat and Prevent Pinkeye

Pink Eye: It’s Not Pretty But There’s No Reason to Panic

By Kelcey Kintner

A few weeks ago, I ran into a friend at the grocery store. I took one look at her son in the shopping cart, with his swollen, red eyes and said, “Pink eye? I’m so sorry. Please stay two aisles away from me at all times.” And then I backed away.  As quickly as possible.

Well, karma came back to get me for my insensitivity because guess who got pink eye a few days ago? Oh yes. Me. None of my kids have it but according to my doctor, I could have picked it up in any public place.

Pink eye (also known as conjunctivitis) is common and often quite contagious. It’s an infection of the outermost layer of the eye and the inner surface of the eyelids.

So how do you know if you have pink eye?

Because your eye will start to feel funny, then turn crusty and pink and you’ll look in the mirror and say to yourself, “Oh crap. I think I have pink eye.”  And you probably do. Symptoms also can include swelling of the eyelids, itching, burning, tearing and a whitish or yellowish discharge from the eye. I know. Very sexy.  You don’t want to get this right before the prom. Luckily, I went to prom 25 years ago.  Now I’m depressed about my age and I have pink eye.

How do you get pink eye?

Pink eye is commonly caused by a viral or bacterial infection or an allergic reaction. Viral infections will go away on their own without medical treatment but bacterial infections need to be treated with antibiotic eye drops. Allergy medications will help those suffering from an allergic reaction.

How do you treat pink eye?

If you suspect that you or your child has pink eye, make an appointment as soon as possible with your doctor. Early diagnosis and treatment will help stop the spread of the infection.

My doctor put me on a seven day antibiotic. No contact lenses during the treatment which is tough for me because I don’t look nearly as good as Isabel in glasses. Plus, my prescription is not exactly up to date. My doctor also instructed me to wear no eye makeup and throw away any eye makeup that I used in the days leading up to the diagnosis.

As a woman who would rather drop her kids off a minute late for school, then show up with no makeup, I did not take kindly to this new fresh face look of mine. But I just focused on sporting fabulous red lips (which as a bonus match my eye!).

So how do you prevent pink eye in the first place?

Pretty much how you avoid a lot of infections. Wash your hands as often as possible. Also, don’t share wash clothes, towels, tissues, contacts or eye makeup.

So far, I have not spread pink eye to my children. Yay! I am really careful to not touch my eyes and wash my hands constantly. But if your kids do contract the infection, don’t panic. It is easily treatable and just be grateful that you don’t have lice. Because I’ve been there too and it’s way worse.

Published March 29, 2013. Last updated October 29, 2017.
Kelcey Kintner
About the Author

Kelcey Kintner

Kelcey Kintner, an award winning journalist and freelance writer, is a fashion critic for US Weekly, created the humor blog 

Kelcey Kintner, an award winning journalist and freelance writer, is a fashion critic for US Weekly, created the humor blog The Mama Bird Diaries and writes for the Huffington Post. You can follow her @mamabirddiaries or on Facebook. She’s still trying to fit 5 kids on a Vespa. 

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