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Is It Pink Eye Or Allergies

What Causes Eye Allergies

What’s going around? Allergies causing pink eye for children

Eye allergies are a reaction to indoor and outdoor allergens that get into your eyes. Examples of these are pollen, mold spores, dust mites and pet dander. Eye allergies are not contagious. They cannot be spread to another person.

Irritants like dirt, smoke, chemicals, and chlorine can also cause swelling and redness of the eyes. This reaction is not an allergic reaction. Viruses and bacteria can also cause the same irritation of the eyes. This reaction is also not an allergic reaction. Some medications and cosmetics can also cause eye allergy symptoms.

The eyes are an easy target for allergens and irritants because they are exposed and sensitive. The body responds to these allergens by releasing chemicals, including histamines, which produce the inflammation.

Pink eye is something different. It is a viral or bacterial infection of the eye tissue. Its called infectious conjunctivitis. It usually starts in one eye and can spread easily to the other eye within a day or two. This eye condition is easily transmitted from person to person. But it is usually not a serious health risk if diagnosed right away.

Does Your Child Have Pink Eye Or Allergies

Conjunctivitis is an inflammation of the conjunctiva tissue underneath the eyelids and on the whites of the eyes, which turns the eyes pink. Conjunctivitis is one of the most common childhood eye problems, but it is also one of the most treatable. However, there are some big differences between the sources of conjunctivitis, which all come with recognizable symptoms.

How to Identify that Your Child Has Eye Allergies

When eyes are itchy, runny and pink, it may be a sign of conjunctivitis. An environmental allergic reaction can lead to a condition called allergic conjunctivitis. Unlike bacterial or viral conjunctivitis, allergic conjunctivitis is not contagious and doesnt required keeping your child out of school. A child suffering from allergic conjunctivitis may experience redness, swollen eyelids, an increased number of tears, itchy eyes and blurred vision however, allergies are not going to produce the same kind of discharge or crusting that is a hallmark of an actual eye infection. Eye allergies can be managed with antihistamines or other pharmaceutical relief options , or by limiting exposure to allergens .

Infectious Pink Eye in Children

Can You Prevent Pink Eye

Whether you have pink eye or allergies, there is no doubt it feels awful and you want to avoid it at all costs. Then what should you do?

  • Never rub or touch your eyes. If you must touch your eyes, wash your hands first.
  • Wash your hands frequently, especially after being in a public place. You can also use hand sanitizer to help keep things clean when you can’t get to soap and water.
  • Never share personal items with friends, including towels or tissues, and never share contact lenses with anyone.
  • Be prepared for seasonal allergies and do what you can to eliminate or reduce your exposure to the allergens.
  • Keep your environment clean use disinfecting wipes on surfaces, such as countertops, computer keyboards and the like.
  • Wear goggles when swimming to help protect your eyes from viruses and bacteria that might be in the water.
  • Never wear your contact lenses in the shower, the pool, or anywhere else that might trap water between the lens and your eye.
  • Always use lens cleaner as directed, and follow directions for cleaning and replacement exactly as stated.

Get to know the spread of pink eye to better prevent it as much as possible by watching the video below:

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Common Symptoms Of Eye Allergies Vs Conjunctivitis

Eye allergy symptoms are very similar to pink eye symptoms, so it can be difficult to tell the difference.

Redness, watering, itching, burning, grittiness and swollen eyelids can be indications of all three kinds of conjunctivitis. Another common symptom is eye discharge. With allergic and viral conjunctivitis, eye discharge tends to be thin and whitish in color. With bacterial conjunctivitis, it is usually thicker and may be green or yellow.

Viral and allergic conjunctivitis have other symptoms in common as well.

If your eyes are inflamed by allergies, its pretty likely that youre also experiencing the sneezing, runny and itchy nose, and cough that accompany allergies. Viral conjunctivitis is usually caused by the adenovirus and other cold and flu viruses.

Since cold and flu symptoms are so similar to allergy symptoms, most of us have asked ourselves, Do I have a cold, or is it just allergies?

What Causes Pink Eye And Eye Allergies

Best Pink Eye Home Remedies for Back

Pink eye results from inflammation in the eyes lining and eyelid that causes the capillaries to swell. Called conjunctivitis, the condition occurs when exposed to certain viruses, bacteria, or chemical aggravates.

Eye allergies, on the other hand, occur when your immune system responds to harmless substances in your environment like pollen, dust mites, or specific foods. This response results in an unnecessary immune system reaction, which sometimes manifests in the eyes.

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Allergic Conjunctivitis In Babies And Children

The symptoms of allergic conjunctivitis listed above, as well as the treatment methods, are largely the same in children, toddlers and infants. It is advisable to see a doctor to confirm a diagnosis of allergic conjunctivitis and determine the best treatment approach for a child.

If a newborn baby shows signs of conjunctivitis, it is important to consult a doctor without delay to identify the cause and receive appropriate treatment. Babies sometimes develop strains of viral conjunctivitis or bacterial conjunctivitis that can be very serious if left untreated.

What Germs Cause Pink Eye Infections

Viral pink eye is most often caused by a common virus called adenovirus, but other viruses can also cause pink eye. If you have viral pink eye, you may also have a cold or sore throat.

Bacterial pink eye can be caused by many different types of bacteria. Some common types are Staphylococcus aureus, Streptococcus pneumoniae, or Haemophilus influenzae.

Its also possible to get pink eye from a fungus or parasite, but its not common.

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We Give You The Breakdown To Help You Soothe Your Red Itchy Eyes The Right Way


Red, itchy eyes are a tell-tale sign of either allergies or pink eye, which can be disconcerting when youre trying to find the proper remedy to ease the irritation. But before you hit up the pharmacy or schedule a doctor visit, take a look at this guide to help you distinguish the difference between allergies or pink eye.

Pink eye is just a simpler term doctors use with their patients to describe conjunctiva inflammationhere are 13 other secrets eye doctors wont tell you. Pink eye is otherwise known in the medical world as conjunctivitis. A thin layer, called the conjunctiva, lines the white part of the eye and inside of the eyelid to help keep our eyelids moist, according to the CDC. When the conjunctiva is irritated by allergens or infected by viruses or bacteria, pink eye can ensue. Reddening in the white of the eye, itching, burning, and increased tear production are just a few of the pink eye symptoms. But conjunctivitis can manifest itself in many ways depending on its cause.

Someone who has pink eye will usually have a discharge that starts in one eye and spreads to two eyes, says Wuqaas M. Munir, MD. Dr. Munir is an associate professor of ophthalmology and visual sciences at the University of Maryland School of Medicine. It feels more irritated like something is in the eye versus an itchy eye for allergies.

Pink Eye Or Allergies: What Are The Differences

How to Tell the Difference Between Allergies and Pink Eye

Conjunctivitis is the term for an eye infection, or an inflammation of the conjunctiva, which is the tissue on the eyelid and the white area of the eyeball. Conjunctivitis can be caused by allergies, a virus, a bacterium, or mechanical irritation.


Those who suffer from seasonal allergies, including the terrible itching of the eyes, have experienced allergic conjunctivitis. These allergies will lead to itchiness, a clear watery discharge from the eyes, and swelling. The condition can be chronic, meaning that it won’t go away very easily. Anything can cause this if you are allergic to it, but the most common culprits are dust, pollen, pet dander and mold.

Pink Eye

Pink eye can be caused by viral, bacterial and mechanical irritation, as well as allergies that has been talked above. However, it is a bit more serious and might require medications to eradicate. The most common symptoms include redness, itching and swelling, as well as a gritty feeling in the eye, tearing of the eye, and a discharge that creates a crust around or over the eye in the evening. This means that it might be tough to actually open your eyes in the morning.

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What Are The Symptoms Of Allergic Pink Eye

Symptoms of allergic pink eye include:

  • Redness in the white of the eye or inner eyelid
  • Increased amount of tears
  • Swelling of the eyelid

In allergic conjunctivitis, these symptoms are usually present in both eyes .

See your ophthalmologist , optometrist , or family doctor if you have any of these persistent symptoms.

Pink Eye Vs Allergies

The term pink eye is most commonly used for the types of conjunctivitis caused by infection rather than when it is caused by non-infectious irritation or inflammation, such as with allergies.

Some forms of conjunctivitis are highly contagious. Others may be triggered by an allergy or exposure to harsh chemicals , which are non-contagious.

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What’s The Difference Between Allergies And Pink Eye

A little-known fact is that allergies are also a form of pink eye. However, allergy-related pink eye cases are non-contagious.

The symptoms of different kinds of pink eyes vary quite a bit. Heres a look into the symptoms of pink eye vs. allergies

  • BacterialPink Eye – Redness, soreness, pus-filled eyes.
  • ViralPink EyeBurning sensation, redness, watery discharge.
  • Allergy – Itchy, watery, puffy eyes and sensitivity to light.

When Pinkeye Means Something More

Allergies or Pink Eye: Heres How to Tell the Difference

Persistent pinkeye could be from a severe allergy or infection that needs treatment. Also, the eyelid could be irritated called blepharitis, or the cornea called dry eye. Rarely, it is a sign of an illness in the body like rheumatoid arthritis, systemic lupus erythematosus , or inflammatory bowel diseases, such as ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease. Pinkeye is also seen in Kawasaki disease – a very rare disease associated with fever in infants and young children.

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You Have An Eye Discharge

Pink eye caused by bacteria generates a yellow or green discharge and crusting around the eyelids. If you wake up to find one or both of your eyelids stuck together, you likely have bacterial conjunctivitis. Your health care provider treats the condition with prescription antibiotic eye drops.

When you have a whitish, watery eye discharge, it may signify viral pink eye. Although your eyelid may not seal shut, it may still form a crust around the eye. A highly contagious form of pink eye, the symptoms are often treated with artificial tears.

What Are The Differences Between Eye Allergies And Pink Eye

The eyeball is covered by a thin membrane called the conjunctiva. When the conjunctiva becomes irritated or inflamed, conjunctivitis can occur.

Conjunctivitis is more commonly known as pink eye. It causes the eyes to become watery, itchy, and red or pink.

Although pink eye and eye allergies cause similar symptoms, theyre two distinct conditions.

Eye allergies are caused by an adverse immune reaction. Pink eye, however, is the result of eye allergies as well as other causes.

These include:

  • smoke
  • dust

Normally, the immune system promotes chemical changes in the body that help fight off harmful invaders, such as bacteria and viruses.

However, in people with allergies, the immune system mistakenly identifies an allergen, which may be otherwise harmless, as a dangerous intruder and begins to fight against it.

Histamine is released when the eyes come into contact with an allergen. This substance causes many uncomfortable symptoms, such as itchy and watery eyes. It can also cause a runny nose, sneezing, and coughing.

An eye allergy may happen at any time of year. However, its especially common during the spring, summer, and fall months when trees, grasses, and plants are in bloom.

Such reactions can also occur when a sensitive person comes into contact with an allergen and rubs their eyes. Food allergies may also cause eye allergy symptoms.

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Can Allergic Conjunctivitis Be Prevented Or Avoided

You can reduce your risk of allergic conjunctivitis by avoiding things that irritate your eyes. For example, if youre allergic to pollen that comes from grass and trees, limit your exposure outdoors. Check weather reports for pollen and mold levels. Keep your doors and windows closed. Use an air conditioner during the summer months.

If youre allergic to animals, consider not having a pet. If youre around a pet, avoid touching the animal and then touching your eyes. Always wash your hands and body after exposure to allergens.

Conjunctivitis Caused By Irritants

What is allergic conjunctivitis and how is it treated?

Conjunctivitis can also be caused by irritation from a variety of substances as opposed to an allergic reaction. These include:

  • Foreign objects in the eyes
  • Cosmetics and soaps
  • Chemicals, e.g. household cleaning products, chlorine in swimming pools
  • Smoke and fumes
  • Dust and dirt

Mild cases of irritant-related conjunctivitis can generally be treated by removing or avoiding the substance, flushing the eyes with water and applying cold compresses and lubricating eye drops to the eyes. However, more serious cases may require specialist medical treatment.

If symptoms are severe or the irritant is a toxic substance, e.g. a household cleaning product, medical attention should be sought urgently.

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What Can I Do To Address Eye Swelling

Eye puffiness or swelling is a common symptom of allergic conjunctivitis, along with itchy, red eyes, a burning sensation and a clear, watery discharge.

During an allergic reaction, white blood cells attach to protective mast cells in the mucus membranes of the eyes and nasal passages, and fluid builds up. Tiny blood vessels in and around the eyes leak, leading to inflammation and swelling in surrounding tissues and the watery discharge. Rubbing or scratching the eyes only makes it worse and could lead to infection.

Eye swelling often occurs at night. One reason this happens is exposure to allergens in the bedroom primarily dust mites and/or pet dander.

When To See A Doctor About Eye Allergies

Though allergic conjunctivitis isnt contagious and wont cause eye damage, its important to know for sure that you dont have another type of conjunctivitis or eye infection. Eye allergy symptoms can often be indistinguishable from those of viral and bacterial conjunctivitis and other serious eye infections.

If your symptoms are severe or last more than a week or so, you should talk to your doctor. Most doctors will recommend having an exam to rule out bacterial conjunctivitis and other infections, as well as to make sure you receive the proper treatment. Plus, if you have severe or chronic eye allergies, your doctor may be able to prescribe a stronger antihistamine or eyedrops to help relieve your symptoms.

If you dont already have an eye doctor you see regularly, we have some great information available for you on how to choose the right eye doctor for your needs.

The American Optometric Association recommends that everyone should have a comprehensive eye exam every one to two years, depending on age. So, whether you need relief from eye allergies or its just been a while since your last eye exam, find an experienced eye doctor near you and schedule an appointment.

Schedule an exam

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Can Pink Eye Clear On Its Own Without Treatment

Mild cases of pink eye usually dont require treatment and clear on their own within a few days to about 14 days . The relief methods listed in a question below can provide comfort. Pink eye caused by a virus dont require treatment unless its caused by herpes simplex virus, varicella-zoster virus or sexually transmitted diseases. In these cases, an antiviral medication may be prescribed. Antibiotics for pink eye caused by bacteria reduce the length of your symptoms and the amount of time you are contagious.

Can Allergies Cause Dry Eyes

How to Get Rid of Pink Eye

If your eyes feel dry and irritated in the winter months when there are fewer outdoor allergens, then you may have a form of tear dysfunction known as dry eye, or keratoconjunctivitis sicca. This is not an allergic reaction it happens when your eyes either do not make enough tears or the tears they make go away very quickly.

Many people have dry eye, including about one-third of older adults. Its commonly found in people with eye allergies as well. Symptoms are sometimes worse when its cold or windy outside, after you turn on the heat in your home, or if youre in a dry environment. Some medications, including oral antihistamines, sleeping pills and anti-depressants, can cause symptoms.

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How Can I Prevent Spreading The Pink Eye Infection

If you or your child has bacterial or viral pink eye, your healthcare provider may recommend staying home from work, school or daycare until you are no longer contagious. Check with your doctor to find out how long that may be. Typically, youre less likely to spread the infection if youve been on antibiotics for 24 hours or no longer have symptoms.

Following good general hygiene and eye care practices can also help prevent the spread of pink eye. These practices include:

  • Dont touch or rub the infected eye.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water.
  • Wash any discharge from your eyes twice a day using a fresh cotton ball. Afterwards, discard the cotton ball and wash your hands with soap and warm water.
  • Wash your hands after applying eye drops or ointment to your eye or your childs eye.
  • Dont share personal items such as makeup, contact lenses, towels or cups.


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