Does Pinkeye Require Urgent Care?

About 6 million Americans get pinkeye every year. It’s one of the most common types of eye infection, and it makes the whites of your eyes turn pinkish red.

Pinkeye is inflammation of the conjunctiva, which is the clear tissue that covers the white part of your eye and the inside of your eyelid. The infection makes eyes itchy, painful, and uncomfortable, and some types of pinkeye are highly contagious.

For most people, pinkeye doesn’t pose permanent health risks, and it typically improves with at-home care. But sometimes, your symptoms could indicate a more serious eye condition.

Our team at Live Urgent Care, founded by Browlyn Marquez, FNP-C, offers prompt care for people with pinkeye and other eye infections. If you’re worried about the health of your eyes, don’t hesitate to schedule a visit.

Identifying pinkeye

The medical term for pinkeye is conjunctivitis. There are lots of possible causes of pinkeye, including viruses (like the common cold), bacteria, irritants, and even allergic reactions.

When a virus, bacteria, or other irritant enters your eye, it can trigger inflammation in the conjunctiva on the surface of your eye or inside your eyelids. Pinkeye can affect one or both of your eyes.

Pinkeye symptoms may include:

Anyone can get pinkeye, but it’s especially common in children. It spreads easily at child care centers and schools.

Treating pinkeye

Many types of pinkeye go away on their own within a week or two. When you have pinkeye, take steps to reduce the chances of spreading it to others. Avoid touching your eyes and wash your hands frequently. Don’t share towels, pillowcases, or makeup with others.

At-home care for pinkeye

Pinkeye can be uncomfortable, so treatment generally focuses on relieving bothersome symptoms. Consider using over-the-counter eyedrops to lubricate eyes and reduce itchiness.

Try using a warm compress on your eye(s) several times a day. Soak a washcloth in warm water, wring out excess water, and rest the cloth over your eyes.

If you usually wear contact lenses, stop wearing them as soon as you notice signs of pinkeye. You need to wear eyeglasses until the infection clears up and use a new, clean pair of contacts when you do start wearing them again.

When to go to the doctor for pinkeye

Mild cases of pinkeye should start improving with a few days of at-home care. If your condition doesn’t improve or if discharge makes your eyes stuck shut when you wake up in the morning, seek medical care.

Our team evaluates your eyes to determine the cause of the inflammation. While viral or allergic pinkeye often goes away on its own, certain types of bacterial pinkeye may be treated with prescription antibiotics.

Pinkeye isn’t the only eye condition that makes your eyes red. Signs of a more serious condition include redness along with symptoms like:

If your newborn baby has pinkeye, call their pediatrician or take them to urgent care right away. Pinkeye rarely causes vision problems for older children or adults, but it can cause long-term vision damage in babies.

When at-home remedies aren’t making a difference or you’re suffering a severe case of pinkeye, don’t wait to seek treatment. Contact our team at Live Urgent Care in Sayreville, Princeton, Morris Plains, Somerset, or Bellmawr, New Jersey.

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