By BitMED Provider: Komal Hanif; MD; Family Medicine

Pink eye, or conjunctivitis, is inflammation of the conjunctiva; a very thin membrane that lines the inner surface of the eyelids and white portion of the eye. The conjunctiva gets inflamed and causes the lining to become red and swollen. There are three main types: allergic, viral and bacterial. Although management is similar for all three, this article will focus on dealing with the bacterial.

Bacterial conjunctivitis is extremely contagious and can quickly spread through a household, workplace or classroom. Bacterial conjunctivitis typically causes eye redness, irritation, pain and/or thick discolored discharge initially in one eye. It’s common for a person’s eyelids to be “stuck” shut upon awakening due to the discharge.

In addition to medical treatment, here are 8 tips for managing bacterial pink eye: 

  1. Wash your hands frequently for at least 15-20 seconds with warm soapy water.
  2. Use alcohol sanitizer when water and soap are not available to wash your hands.
  3. Avoid eye makeup during an infection and discard any open eye makeup as it is likely contaminated.
  4. Remove contact lenses and wear glasses until the infection is cleared. 
  5. Thoroughly clean your contact lens case and discard disposable contacts.
  6. Avoid touching your eyes with your fingers. Conjunctivitis is commonly transmitted from one eye to the other this way.
  7. Avoid school and/or work until you have had at least 24 hours of antibiotic treatment.
  8. Apply Cold or warm compresses – whichever feels better!