summary conjunctivitis

Conjunctivitis is an inflammation of the conjunctiva, it is usually viral, but sometimes it can be allergic or even parasitic. Viral and bacterial conjunctivitis are highly contagious.
It is not uncommon to observe epidemics of conjunctivitis in some areas, in the vast majority viral conjunctivitis is observed with a strong contagiousness and rapid transmission of the virus.
You should know that in general, conjunctivitis is benign.
The main symptoms are redness of the eyes, pruritus (sensation of grains of sand in the eyes), irritation and secretion of mucus (transparent liquid) at eye level. The redness occurs due to an inflammation of the small blood vessels in the eye. Other symptoms may also be associated. Conjunctivitis can be unilateral (one eye) or mostly bilateral (both eyes).

Treatment depends on the cause. For bacterial conjunctivitis (more rare), an antibiotic will be used, for example, in the form of eye drops and ointment.

For viral conjunctivitis, there is no antiviral treatment (except for conjunctivitis caused by a herpes-like virus, but this is rare). We must therefore treat the symptoms using lubricating eye drops or applying cold water compresses regularly.

The main preventive measures and good advice in cases of conjunctivitis are to avoid transmission in your environment, in society. A person with viral conjunctivitis should avoid work for four days in order not to contaminate others, ditto at a school or any place in contact with other people. As always, he should wash his hands thoroughly.

You can also wear sunglasses to reduce sensitivity to light, which can be irritating with conjunctivitis.


mucosa that covers the inner surface of the eyelid and the anterior surface of the eye. The conjunctiva actually covers the white of the eye or sclera.

The conjunctiva notably plays a role in lining and lubricating the surface of the eye.

You should know that the conjunctiva is a thin and normally transparent membrane.

The main causes of the disease are of viral, bacterial, allergic and traumatic/toxic origin, and therefore treatments are determined depending on the cause.

When conjunctivitis is caused by allergies, there are usually no serious consequences, unlike conjunctivitis of bacterial or viral origin, which, if left untreated, can lead to corneal damage and even blindness.


The disease can have several origins: viral, bacterial, (fungus), (protozoan), allergic and traumatic.

viral conjunctivitis

– Viral conjunctivitis accounts for 95% of cases of conjunctivitis.

– Most viruses can cause conjunctivitis.

– A virus can be, for example, Coxsackie A24 (in São Paulo – 2011) which can cause epidemics or even adenovirus.

Transmission of viral conjunctivitis
Transmission is very high, a person with conjunctivitis should stay home for four days after the onset of conjunctivitis.

bacterial conjunctivitis

– The bacteria that cause conjunctivitis can be streptococcus, staphylococcus, gonococcus, etc.

Allergic conjunctivitis and pollution

– Allergic conjunctivitis is caused by dust, pollen, among others, which cause characteristic symptoms.

– Pollution, in São Paulo (Brazil) for example in autumn and winter which are drier periods, can increase the risk or promote conjunctivitis.

traumatic conjunctivitis

– These conjunctivitis can be caused by foreign bodies that may arise in manual work without protection (shards of glass, of different materials). Workers, researchers, chemists and pharmacists can experience traumatic conjunctivitis after handling chemicals, which can irritate and injure the cornea.

Groups of risk

The following people are most likely to develop conjunctivitis:

– newborn babies;

– Allergic people;

– Workers who do not use protective glasses (against glass and metal shattering);

– Workers, chemists, pharmacists, among others, who do not use safety glasses (when handling chemical products);

– Housemaids, cleaners, children (contact with cleaning products).

Babies’ eyes are particularly fragile and very sensitive to light, heat, cold, smoke and pathogenic germs.


Conjunctivitis can be unilateral (one eye affected), but most often it is bilateral (affects both eyes). In general, (at least for viral conjunctivitis) the conjunctivitis starts in one eye and after 3 to 4 days it spreads to the other eye.

The characteristic signs of conjunctivitis are:

– Light burning sensation

– Foreign body sensation in the eye (feeling of sand in the eyes)

– lacrimation

– Yellowish discharge (especially in cases of bacterial conjunctivitis), secretion of a clear liquid in the case of viral conjunctivitis. Eyelashes sometimes stick together.

– Red eyes

Other symptoms may appear depending on the cause of the conjunctivitis.

viral conjunctivitis symptoms

– Usually hits one eye pair then moves to the other

– Intense lacrimation, without purulent discharge

– Feeling like flu, sore in the body

– Photobia (pain caused by light)

Viral conjunctivitis incubation period

In general, the incubation time is 1 – 4 days, during which time the person is contagious but symptoms have not yet developed.

After this incubation time (1-4 days), the first symptoms appear and the acute phase of the disease lasts 5-15 days. It is estimated that the first 4 days of symptoms the person is (very) contagious and must remain somewhat isolated to avoid infecting their family.

Note, that red eye color (a sign of conjunctivitis) may persist for 2 to 3 weeks, especially if there is bleeding in the conjunctiva.

Bacterial conjunctivitis symptoms

– It usually affects both eyes at the same time.

– Purulent secretion (little ball of pus at the inner end of the eye). The color can be greenish-yellow.

– The eyes are glued together in the morning.

allergic conjunctivitis

– Lachrymation without purulent secretion

– severe itch

– Photophobia

– Recurrent and periodic appearance (always at the same time: in the case of hay fever , when the causative agent of the allergy appears ).

– Frequent appearance of symptoms in the presence of the causative agent of the allergy: cats, mites, etc.

– Symptoms related to allergies, such as a runny nose, rhinitis, etc.

Traumatic conjunctivitis (due to a foreign body)

– lacrimation

– Feeling of sand in the eyes

A conjunctivitis that is very painful or that decreases visual acuity requires an immediate medical examination (risk of glaucoma , for example).


The diagnosis of conjunctivitis is made by a specialist (ophthalmologist) or a general practitioner (general medicine).

the ophthalmologist

– It will identify the type of conjunctivitis. If applicable, the causative germ (virus, bacteria).

– He will investigate your cornea to detect possible injuries, by instillation of fluorescein.


In general, conjunctivitis is treated according to its cause (antibiotics, anti-allergy eye drops, etc.) and is cured after a few days, without sequelae.

Unlike untreated viral or bacterial conjunctivitis, which can damage the cornea and lead to blindness.

Furthermore, viral or bacterial conjunctivitis is contagious, so it is necessary to protect your surroundings through hygienic measures.

When to consult?

As we saw in the diagnosis of conjunctivitis section, we advise you to consult a doctor in case of viral, bacterial or traumatic conjunctivitis, or as soon as your visual faculties are compromised. Attention: non-exhaustive list, for every suspicious symptom consult a doctor.

Who to consult?

Important note: A viral or bacterial conjunctivitis, if not well treated, can damage the cornea and cause blindness. Therefore, ALWAYS treat conjunctivitis quickly.

General Medicine – SPECIALIST – HOSPITAL

General practitioner

He is a doctor of choice to help you better cure viral, bacterial, parasitic, etc. conjunctivitis.


The ophthalmologist is the eye specialist. We believe that conjunctivitis is a benign disease and that it should be treated by a general practitioner. Of course, if the general practitioner considers it necessary, he can refer you to an ophthalmologist.

Heads up

In case of suspicious symptoms consult a doctor, urgently if necessary.


Treatment viral conjunctivitis (most common cause, 95% of cases)

– Cold compress of filtered water made at 5-7°C. Apply for 2 minutes, 5 times a day;

– lubricating eye drops;

– Antiseptic eye drops to avoid secondary (bacterial) infections of viral conjunctivitis;

– To be avoided in cases of viral conjunctivitis: corticoid-based eye drops or vasoconstrictor eye drops (may cause hypertension).

Against the herpes-type virus (if the cause of the conjunctivitis is linked to this virus), antiviral drugs can be helpful.

There is actually no specific treatment in the case of viral conjunctivitis.

If the eye is inflamed, acetaminophen (acetaminophen) or ibuprofen taken internally in pill or drop form may be effective in relieving some discomfort, 20221.

bacterial conjunctivitis treatment

– Eye drops or ointments to reduce inflammation (usually cortisone or anti-inflammatory).

– Eye drops and ointments based on antibiotics to cure conjunctivitis (eg antiseptic eye drops based on hexamidine).
An erythromycin ophthalmic ointment or trimethoprim/polymyxin B ophthalmic solution are reasonable choices for first-line treatment of acute bacterial conjunctivitis2 . It is also possible to use fluoroquinolones in topical form (eg, eye drops, creams).

– Avoid eye drops based on boricate water, as they can cause allergies.

Traumatic conjunctivitis treatment

The doctor will:

– remove the foreign body

– prescribe antibiotic and anti-inflammatory eye drops to prevent superinfection.

In case of conjunctivitis caused by chemicals, it is essential to clean the eyes with plenty of water and consult a doctor immediately.

allergic conjunctivitis treatment

– antiallergic eye drops

– anti-allergy drugs to be taken internally

– homeopathy: in granules or in eye drops

For people who prefer alternative medicine to treat conjunctivitis, here are some possible remedies in oligotherapy and herbal medicine. We also emphasize the fact that allopathy (classical medicine) and alternative medicine are compatible and can be complementary. The important thing is to take care to ingest trace elements away from meals and medications, in order to improve absorption and therapeutic effects.

in herbal medicine

Chamomile -based compresses can calm the symptoms of conjunctivitis, thanks to its anti-inflammatory effect. Attention, this is a complementary measure, so be careful with the risk of allergy. When preparing the compresses, use gauze to filter and apply over the eye and ensure the best possible hygiene to avoid further infection of the eye.

See also: euphrasia , medicinal plant with an antiseptic effect used mainly in eye problems such as conjunctivitis.


 Avoid scratching your eyes: it damages the cornea.

– Apply a cold compress several times a day during allergic or viral conjunctivitis, which helps relieve itching. In case of bacterial conjunctivitis, a warm compress may be preferable. The compress should be as clean as possible and soaked in water (hot or cold). Before application to the eye, it is important to thoroughly clean and wring out the compress.

– Protect sensitive eyes with sunglasses, as it helps to decrease sensitivity to light (it is sometimes irritating in viral conjunctivitis).

 Do not use eye makeup.

 Remove contact lenses to prevent the cornea from further irritation. Also, the preservatives used in certain eye drops can deteriorate the lenses.

 Follow the medical prescription: the number of drops of eye drops, the frequency of administration and the number of days of treatment.

 Continue the treatment until the end, even if the symptoms regress.

– Wash your hands frequently and do not share face towels to avoid contagion.

– After applying eye drops or creams (ointments), it is advisable to wash your hands. To avoid contamination from one eye to the other if only one is affected, or to the environment.


– Avoid exposure to allergy-causing agents: pollen, mites, animal fur.

– Take allergy relievers before exposure to allergy-causing agents

– Use glasses: decreases exposure to allergy-causing agents

– Use swimming goggles (presence of chlorine can worsen conjunctivitis)

– Do not use makeup products and towels from other people (transmission of bacteria and viruses)

– Wear safety glasses at work (handicrafts, laboratory glasses).

– Always keep the mucous membrane of the eyes hydrated with saline solution or artificial tears.

– Wash your hands frequently, especially in cases of viral conjunctivitis epidemic. It is advisable to wash your hands with alcohol or disinfectant solutions to eliminate the virus well, but soap and water can also be enough.

– Especially in cases of viral conjunctivitis, for example, in case of an epidemic in your area: avoid any closed place where there are many people, try not to leave the air conditioning on permanently in places with this system, avoid saunas and swimming pools, do not kiss or shake hands and avoid sharing objects used by people with conjunctivitis, such as towels, caps, pens, etc.

Jeanne Kenney
 | Website

I’m a stylist trainer, a content creator, and an entrepreneur passion. Virgo sign and Pisces ascendant, I move easily between my dreams, the crazy world I want, and my feet on the ground to carry out my projects.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *