Pink eye is the non-medical term for conjunctivitis—a bacterial, viral, or allergy-induced infection that leaves one or both eyes bright red, swollen, teary and itchy, says Dr. Lee. It’s easily spread, unfortunately, and though it rarely becomes serious, a bout of conjunctivitis can keep you away from work for several days and turn your eyes into goopy, pinkish-red messes.
The condition doesn’t necessarily require a doctor’s visit; applying a cold compress can help ease the redness and make your eyes feel better. But if you’re not sure if what you have is conjunctivitis, or the infection doesn’t go away in a few days, check in with your MD. The type you have will determine how and if your doctor can treat it—for example, if it’s bacterial, antibiotic eyedrops can help.
If you have either viral or bacterial conjunctivitis, practice good hand hygiene to keep it from spreading to other people in your household. Sharing towels or makeup, or just touching your eyes and then making contact with another person, can transmit it.