Soothe conjunctivitis
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Soothe symptoms of conjunctivitis


Conjunctivitis is painful inflammation of the outer coat of the eye

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Conjunctivitis is inflammation of the conjunctiva which is the outermost thin membrane covering the eye surface. Conjunctivitis is also known as red eye or pink eye.

Conjunctivitis symptoms

When you should contact a doctor

Causes of conjunctivitis

Is conjunctivitis contagious?

Viral and bacterial conjunctivitis are very contagious so strict hygiene must be observed. Always wash your hands after touching your eyes. Use your own towel or face flannel and avoid close contact with other people

Allergic conjunctivitis

Allergic conjunctivitis is triggered by contact with allergens such as pollen, dust mites or animals and is a common part of hay fever.

Irritant conjunctivitis

This is due to physical damage to the conjunctiva either by UV light (effectively giving the conjunctiva sunburn – common in skiers who don’t wear sunglasses or goggles), chlorinated water, salt water, shampoo or having something rubbing the eye such as an eyelash. Removing the cause usually clears the problem.

Keratoconjunctivitis sicca (dry eye)

This is an autoimmune condition where the immune system attacks the glands that produce tears, reducing eye lubrication causing irritation. This can be part of a bigger condition called Sjögren's syndrome.

Chlamydia eye infection

Chlamydia causes inflammation of the inner eyelid which then damages the conjunctiva and cornea. Not really a conjunctivitis but important as chlamydia is the world's commonest preventable cause of blindness.

Treatments available

Conjunctivitis is very uncomfortable and it is difficult to stop yourself from rubbing your eyes, but rubbing really does make the irritation worse. Do not wear contact lenses while suffering from this condition. Cold compresses are excellent for reducing inflammation. Put a damp flannel in the fridge then hold it gently to your closed eyes. Repeat as often as you like. Anti-inflammatory medicines such a ibuprofen and painkillers such as paracetomol can help you cope with the discomfort. Lubricant eye drops such as lacrilube are available and can help ease eye pain and are especially useful in viral conjunctivitis.


Multiple studies have shown that in the vast majority of cases antibiotics don’t help cure conjunctivitis. Usually treated and untreated people get better at the same time. However, it is common practice to treat conjunctivitis to help prevent spread and allow people to return to their usual activities as soon as possible. Certainly if your conjunctivitis is very severe and hasn’t gone away after a week you need antibiotic eye drops or ointments. These usually contain chloramphenicol or if this is unsuitable, fusidic acid.

Antihistamine eye drops

In allergic conjunctivitis antihistamine eye drops such as olopatidine are very effective at clearing the problem but you may need to use them every day during the pollen season (if you have hay fever) or consider allergen avoidance if you have a pet or dust mite allergy.

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