Pink Eye (Conjunctivitis)

General Information

The conjunctiva is a thin clear membrane that lines the eyelids and covers the eyeball. Pink eye is the inflammation or infection of that membrane. It occurs very commonly in all age groups. It can be caused by bacteria, viruses, injury, allergy or foreign body. Infants can have repeated episodes of conjunctivitis secondary to blocked tear ducts. Bacterial conjunctivitis is extremely contagious and is very common in children who attend daycare or preschool.


  • Drainage- can be pus-like or watery
  • Crusty eyelids
  • Swollen eyelids
  • Pink color to the white of the eye
  • Itch or pain


The appropriate treatment depends on the cause of the pink eye. Bacterial conjunctivitis requires antibiotic drops or ointment. The infection usually clears in a few days. After 24 hours of medication it is okay to return to school or daycare. Other comfort measures include washing the affected eye(s) a few times a day with cold water. Apply a washcloth with cold water over the eyes for 5 minutes to soothe the itch or pain. Before putting in any medicines, remove all the pus from the eye with warm water and wet cotton balls. Unless this is done, the medicine will not have a chance to work. Other treatment measures include treatment for allergies or removal of a foreign body if these are determined to be the cause of the pink eye(s).

Call the Doctor Immediately if:

  • Eyelids are very swollen with redness of the eyelid
  • History of direct or blunt trauma
  • Blurry vision, especially after any trauma
  • Constant tearing, blinking or pain in the eye
  • Possibility of foreign body in the eye

Call during office hours if:

  • There is a yellow eye discharge
  • Redness for more than three days
  • Constant itching, watery discharge
  • The child develops an earache