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4 Clear Signs You Have Pink Eye (and 4 Ways to Prevent It)

In this video, learn the causes, symptoms, and prevention remedies for a common eye infection known as pink eye.

Brittany DoohanAlexandra Schwarz, MD
Written by Brittany Doohan | Reviewed by Alexandra Schwarz, MD
Updated on November 15, 2021

You wake up and out of nowhere, your eye is red and irritated. It’s crusty. It’s oozey. According to what your friend told you that her friend’s kid had, it looks a lot like pink eye. But is it?

First of all, let’s talk about what pink eye *actually* is. Pink eye, or conjunctivitis, is when the conjunctiva, the clear layer of tissue that lines the eyelids and covers the white of the eye, becomes swollen or inflamed.

Pink eye can be caused by an infection, irritant, dry eyes, or an allergy.

Usually your tears do a pretty good job of washing away germs and irritants (they contain proteins and antibodies that kill germs), but sometimes bacteria, viruses, or allergens prevail.

You might have pink eye if your eyes:

  • Turn pink or red

  • Weep or ooze a gooey liquid

  • Become itchy or burn

  • Get crusty overnight (most often caused by bacteria)

If the pink eye is infectious, it can spread very easily. To prevent getting or spreading pink eye:

  • Avoid touching your eyes

  • Wash your hands often

  • Don’t share pillowcases, makeup, or towels

  • Handle and clean contact lenses properly

Most cases of pink eye go away on their own in three to four days, but can be treated with eye drops or gels, if needed. If your pink eye worsens, becomes painful, or your vision is affected, see a doctor.


Conjunctivitis (Pink Eye): The Basics. UpToDate. (Accessed on November 16, 2021 at: https://www.uptodate.com/contents/conjunctivitis-pink-eye-the-basics)

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