What is Pink Eye?
Pink eye, or more commonly known in the medical world as conjunctivitis, is an infection or inflammation in the outer membrane of your eye, more specifically your eyeball. The blood vessels in the transparent membrane (conjunctiva) that lines part of your eye become inflamed, which gives your eye the red or pink hue.
Pink eye is highly contagious and even more irritating, so getting treatment for pink eye is recommended, and early diagnosis can help limit its spread.
Symptoms of Pink Eye
As we stated above, pink eye and other viral infections are very contagious, so it’s super important to pay mind to your symptoms.
The most common signs and symptoms of pink eye can include:
Pink or reddish colored eyes
Having a gritty or sand-like feeling in your eyes
An abnormal amount of tears
Itchiness in your eyes
Watery or thick discharge build-up on the rims of your eyes at night. Will look and feel like hardened crystals, which can make your eye hard to open
Increased sensitivity to light
How Long Does Pink Eye Last?
According to the CDC, most viral conjunctivitis cases are mild and will usually clear up within seven to 14 days without treatment.
How long is pink eye contagious?
Pink eye is typically contagious up to two weeks after it begins, which is why it is so important to have it treated sooner rather than later. Once it’s treated and things start to improve, pink eye is generally no longer contagious after the eye has stopped tearing and the build-up is gone.
What Does Pink Eye Look Like?
Depending on what’s causing your pink eye will depend on what it looks like. Regardless of what’s causing it, pink eye makes your eye look, well, pink. At the very least pinkish. As you can see from the image below, your eye, or eyes will appear to have a pink or red hue.
Apart from looking pink, your eye can also look watery, somewhat shut, and if your pink eye is caused by bacteria, you may even have sticky yellow or green discharge surrounding your eye.
What Causes Pink Eye?
The most common causes of pink eye are from:
Bacteria or Viruses
As the most common source of pink eye, bacterial conjunctivitis is typically caused by the same bacteria that causes strep throat. However, pink eye that’s caused by a virus is generally the result of one of the viruses that cause the common cold or the flu.
People with allergies are typically more prone to getting pink eye, due to their weakened immune system. Allergens, like pollen or pet dander, can cause pink, as allergens stimulate your body to overproduce histamines that cause inflammation as a defense mechanism to possible infection, which then causes allergic conjunctivitis.
This type of pink eye can be very itchy but typically goes away on its own without having to seek medical attention.
Chemicals such as chlorine, which is usually found in swimming pools can cause your eye to become irritated and pink eye to develop. It is important to be careful if a foreign substance or chemical splashes in your eyes.
Pro tip - Rinsing your eyes with clean water is an easy and effective way to keep these irritants from causing pink eye. So, next time you’re swimming in a chlorinated pool, be sure to rinse your eyes, because, yes, you can in fact get pink eye from a swimming pool.
Can you get Pink Eye from a Fart?
The short answer is no, you cannot get pink eye from a fart. The long heard myth that farting on someone’s pillow will give them pink eye is not true.
Dr. Amir Mozavi wrote an article stating just this--the methane gas that is produced by flatulence does not contain bacteria and any bacteria that might be present in the fart would die very quickly once it’s outside the body.
However, you CAN get pink eye from poop. More specifically, you can get pink eye from the bacteria in the poop if your hands contain fecal matter and you touch your eyes. We won’t paint you a picture of how said poop got onto your hands because we’re sure you can probably take your own educated guesses, but it is recommended by the American Academy of Opthalmology that you wash your hands thoroughly after coming into contact with fecal matter of any kind.
When to See a Doctor about Pink Eye
Thankfully, most cases of pink eye are mild and can typically get better on their own without treatment. But, there are times when you should seek medical treatment, especially if you have bacterial conjunctivitis, as they will most likely need to prescribe you medication to help treat it. You should also see your healthcare provider or online doctor if you have pink eye that is accompanied by the following:
A weakened immune system
Symptoms that persist or become worse
Blurred vision or other vision problems, including light sensitivity
Moderate to severe pain in your eyes
Pre-existing eye conditions that could put you at higher risk for infection
Severe redness or itching
How to Prevent Pink Eye
Pink eye is both very common and very contagious (almost as contagious as the common cold). It is important to practice good hygiene in general, but here are some helpful tips on how you can stave off pink eye.
Wash your hands often, especially after using the restroom
Take out contact lenses at the end of the day
Use clean wash clothes and towels
Avoid sharing said towels
Avoid touching your eyes unnecessarily
Change your pillowcases more often than you think (once a week is recommended)
If dealing with COVID-19 has taught us anything, it’s that we all need to practice good, or better hygiene to stop the spread of diseases and viruses, including pink eye.