Pink eye (conjunctivitis) is a common condition, especially among children in day care, as well as students and teachers. While it can be controlled and treated, it’s important to know the facts about pink eye, especially if you have kids heading back to school in the fall.\nRELATED:\u00a0Back to School Eye Care\nWhat Is Pink Eye?\nPink eye is the term for redness and swelling in the eyelid and lining of the eye, which is usually colorless. It can be the result of:\n\nA virus\nBacteria\nAllergies\nSmoke, chemicals, or other airborne irritants\n\nPink eye caused by a virus or bacteria is highly contagious, so it’s important to be aware of the cause if you or your child has eye inflammation.\nWhat Are the Symptoms of Pink Eye?\nTelltale signs of pink eye include:\n\nRedness in and around the eye\nSwelling of the eyelid\nItchiness\/burning\nClear, white, or yellow discharge\nMore wateriness than usual\n\nPink eye, especially when caused by a virus, often occurs during or after a cold or sore throat, so you may experience other symptoms in addition to these.\nRELATED:\u00a0Keeping Your Eyes Healthy While Wearing Contacts\nWhat Should I Do if I Think I Have Pink Eye?\nIf you or your child is experiencing these symptoms, call your doctor to ask about the best treatment.\nMost forms of pink eye will go away on their own within a week or two. However, if you have bacterial pink eye, your doctor may give you an antibiotic in the form of ointment or eye drops. If your eye inflammation is the result of allergies, allergy medicine or eye drops may help get rid of it.\nThe most important thing to remember is that both viral and bacterial pink eye are highly contagious. Pink eye can spread from one eye to the other, and it can easily spread between children and adults if a healthy person comes into contact with fluid from an infected person’s eye. It is most often spread by hand-to-eye-to-hand contact.\nPreventing Pink Eye\n\nDO remove and throw away contact lenses immediately after symptoms start, and clean or change your contact case.\nDO wash your hands often and avoid touching your eyes and face.\nDON’T share towels, wash cloths, or pillows with anyone else while you have pink eye.\nDON’T wear eye makeup until the condition clears, and don’t share makeup with others.\nDO use any medication your doctor prescribes for as long as you’re told, even if symptoms start to clear up.\nDO stay home from work\/school until after the contagious period passes (two to three days).\n\nYou can apply a damp warm or cool washcloth on your eye to sooth irritation, but be careful not to spread the disease to your other eye.\nCan Pink Eye Become Something Worse?\nMost of the time, pink eye clears up quickly on its own or with medication. However, if it is left untreated and gets worse, it could permanently damage the eye.\nPink eye may also be more of a concern if you wear contact lenses, have an immune system deficiency, or have other medical concerns. It can also be a sign of a more serious medical condition if you experience any of the following:\n\nEye pain\nSensitivity to light\nExtreme redness\/irritation\nSymptoms that last longer than a few days or worsen over time\n\nCall your doctor if you experience any of these or have concerns about your pink eye. If your condition worsens, consider visiting a UPMC Urgent Care location.