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Tulane University is actively monitoring 2019 Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19). Learn more about the virus, FAQs, and current recommendations.

While Campus Health services will still be available to Tulane University students, we have made some adjustments due to reduced resources and staffing. Learn more about our service adjustments.

Conjunctivitis (Pink Eye)

What is conjunctivitis?

Conjunctivitis, also known as pink eye, is an inflammation of the thin layer that lines the inside of the eyelid and covers the white part of the eye. It is caused by a virus or bacterial infection or from a reaction to an allergen.

What are the signs and symptoms?

  • Pink or red in the white of the eye(s) 
  • Discharge from the eye(s)
  • Itchy or scratchy eye(s)
  • Crusting along the eyelid or lashes

How is conjunctivitis spread?

Conjunctivitis caused by allergens is not contagious; however, the viral and bacterial forms may be spread to others. They are spread through close contact with an infected person and the sharing of items such as bedding, eye or face makeup, makeup brushes, eyeglasses, contacts and contact solution, and other similar items.

How do you prevent conjunctivitis?

Viral and bacterial conjunctivitis can be easily spread from person to person. To prevent contracting and spreading the viral and bacterial types of conjunctivitis:

  • Wash your hands with soap and warm water or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer/rub.
  • Try to avoid touching or rubbing the eye(s).
  • Wash discharge from the eye several times a day.
  • Wash hands after applying drops or ointment to the infected area.
  • Wash all bedding and clothing in hot water and detergent; wash hands after handling these items.

How do you diagnose and treat conjunctivitis?

Diagnosis is usually based on the signs of the symptoms exhibited by the patient. Lab testing is not normally needed to confirm diagnosis. Treatment of conjunctivitis consists of using antibiotic eye drops and/or topical ointments.