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Bacterial Conjunctivitis (Pink Eye)

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Last updated November 29, 2021

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What is bacterial conjunctivitis (pink eye)?

Bacterial conjunctivitis, or pinkeye, is an inflammation of the clear membranes covering the eye. It causes redness, pain, and irritation of one or both eyes.

It’s often caused by the staphylococcus or streptococcus bacteria, and anything that can carry bacteria into the eye can cause conjunctivitis. Touching the eyes with unwashed hands; sharing eye makeup, washcloths, or towels; or improperly cleaning contact lenses are common causes.

The same bacteria that cause the sexually transmitted diseases chlamydia and gonorrhea can also cause conjunctivitis.

Children are most likely to get pink eye, but anyone can get it.

Symptoms

Treatment

You should see a doctor within the next few days to discuss your symptoms. If you have pink eye, it can be treated with antibiotic eye drops. Your symptoms should go away within a few days. Warm compresses over the eyes can help ease the discomfort. Pink eye is highly contagious and can be spread through close contact with other people.

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