Conjunctivitis is an inflammation of the conjunctiva, which is a thin, transparent membrane that lines the eyelids and portions of the underlying eyeball. Conjunctivitis is usually caused by viruses, bacteria, or allergies.


  • bloodshot eye or redness
  • a discharge in the eye that with bacterial conjunctivitis may be thick and white or creamy
  • swollen, itchy eyelid
  • tearing
  • scratchy or gritty feeling
  • sensitivity to light


  • Gently bathe eyelid with tap water and a clean wash cloth to keep the area clean and free of discharge.
  • Antibiotic eye drops or ointment may be prescribed if a bacterial infection is the cause.
  • Oral antihistamines or antihistamine eye drops may relieve the itching and irritation caused by an allergy. If not, corticosteroid eye drops can help.
  • In some cases, surgery may be needed to correct the alignment of the eyelids or may open clogged tear ducts.

Infective conjunctivitis is highly contagious - wash your hands before and after bathing the eye or applying medication to it. Be careful not to touch the infected eye and then touch the other eye. To prevent the infection from spreading, family or household members should use separate cloths, towels, pillows, and sheets. If you wear contact lenses, stop wearing them while you have the infection.

Written and reviewed by the MediResource Clinical Team