What is red, itchy and contagious? Since you managed to avoid that poison ivy, it's got to be pink eye, also known as conjunctivitis. Pink eye is an inflammation of a transparent membrane that lines part of the eyeball and eyelid. It's caused by either a bacterial or viral infection -- and sometimes allergies. If you haven't noticed (because your eyes are red and itchy), allergy season is indeed upon us.
According to the Mayo Clinic, pink eye symptoms can include tearing, redness, itchiness and discharge in one or both eyes, as well as a crust that can form overnight. Bacterial conjunctivitis is more common in children than it is in adults, and is extremely contagious.
Westport pediatrician Dr. Nikki Gorman has noticed a recent uptick in pink eye cases. "We are seeing a lot of allergic conjunctivitis right now. Patanol [an eye drop] is our savior."
If you notice any signs or symptoms in you or your family that you think might be pink eye, you should make an appointment with your healthcare provider. Dr. Gorman says, "The way to distinguish between bacterial and allergic conjunctivitis is that the bacterial tends to have yellow/green discharge and/or crust, whereas the allergic discharge is white or clear." In both scenarios, she says the eyes are usually red.
Pink eye is highly contagious for as long as two weeks after signs and symptoms begin, and an early diagnosis and treatment can not only prevent others from contracting pink eye, but also alleviate your symptoms quickly.