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Conjunctivitis

Conjunctivitis is an eye condition caused by infection or allergies. It usually gets better in a couple of weeks without treatment.

Conjunctivitis is also known as red or pink eye.

It usually affects both eyes and makes them:

  • red
  • burn or feel gritty
  • produce pus that sticks to lashes
  • itch
  • water
A red and gritty eye caused by conjunctivitis on dark skin

If you're not sure it's conjunctivitis

Find out about other conditions that can cause red eyes

There are things you can do to help ease your symptoms.

  • Boil water and let it cool down before you gently wipe your eyelashes to clean off crusts with a clean cotton wool pad (1 piece for each eye).
  • Hold a cold flannel on your eyes for a few minutes to cool them down.

Do not wear contact lenses until your eyes are better.

Do

  • wash your hands regularly with warm soapy water

  • wash your pillow cases and face cloths in hot water and detergent

  • cover your mouth and nose when sneezing and put used tissues in the bin

Don't

  • do not share towels and pillows

  • do not rub your eyes

Staying away from work or school

You do not need to stay away from work or school unless you or your child are feeling very unwell.

A pharmacist can help with conjunctivitis

Speak to a pharmacist about conjunctivitis. They can give you advice and suggest eyedrops or antihistamines to help with your symptoms.

If you need treatment for a child under 2, you'll need a prescription from a GP.

Treatment will depend on the cause of your conjunctivitis.

If it's a bacterial infection, you might be prescribed antibiotics. But these will not work if it's caused by a virus (viral conjunctivitis) or an allergy.

Some sexually transmitted infections (STIs) can cause conjunctivitis. This type takes longer to get better.