Infective Conjunctivitis is a common eye infection.
Conjunctivitis refers to an inflammation (swelling and
redness) of the conjunctiva, the clear membrane that covers the
white part of the eye and the inner surface of the eyelids.
Infective Conjunctivitis can be caused by a virus, bacteria or, in
rare cases, by a sexually transmitted infection such as chlamydia
or gonorrhoea.
Infection is not the only cause of Conjunctivitis. Allergies,
for example to seasonal pollen, animal dander and dust, can cause
Allergic Conjunctivitis. Irritant Conjunctivitis can result when
any irritating substance enters the eyes such as household
cleaners, sprays of any kind, smoke, smog, and industrial
The most common symptoms of Infective Conjunctivitis include
reddening and watering of the eyes. A sticky coating may appear on
the eyelashes. This discharge dries during sleep and can make the
eyes feel like they are stuck together. It may also cause crusting
around the eyelids. Conjunctivitis from a virus may involve one or
both eyes, causing red itchy eyes with a discharge. Conjunctivitis
caused by a bacterial infection almost always involves both eyes,
although it may start in one eye. There may also be a gritty
feeling when blinking. Symptoms last from two days to three
See your GP immediately if you experience any of the following
symptoms which may indicate a more serious condition:
  • moderate to severe pain in your eyes,
  • photophobia (sensitivity to light),
  • disturbed vision, or
  • intense redness in your eyes.
As with all medical conditions your Doctor should be consulted
for an accurate diagnosis and treatment.
The majority of cases of Infective Conjunctivitis do not
require any medical treatment. As most infections will heal without
treatment within one to two weeks, your GP may not initially
prescribe any particular medicines or treatment for you.
In some cases of bacterial Conjunctivitis antibiotic ointment
or drops may be required. These are also available over the counter
at your pharmacy. It is important to apply this treatment to both
eyes, even if only one eye appears to be infected. You should
continue to use the drops for two days after your symptoms have
cleared. The following guidelines may assist recovery:
  • Remove contact lenses until all the signs and symptoms of the
    infection have been resolved. You should also avoid using contact
    lenses until 24 hours after you have finished a course of
    treatment, such as antibiotics.
  • Lubricant eye drops may help to ease any soreness and
    stickiness in your eyes.
  • Gently clean away sticky substances from your eyelashes using
    clean using cotton wool soaked in water. Clean in one direction
    only (either towards the nose from the outside in, or away from the
    nose) discarding the cotton ball each time to prevent
  • Wash your hands regularly. To prevent spreading the infection
    to others it is important to wash your hands after you have touched
    your infected eye.
  • Fennel may be used as a compress to reduce inflammation of the
    eyes and skin.
  • Eyebright is best known for its use in eye conditions,
    including acute and chronic inflammations. It may be applied as a
    sterile compress in conjunction with internal use for
  • Calendula is antibacterial and antiviral and can help reduce
    swollen eyes. Calendula eye washes are useful in treating
  • Chamomile can be used as a compress to reduce
  • Zinc can be taken to help boost the immune system and the
    lessen the symptoms of conjunctivitis.
A person with Infective Conjunctivitis is infectious until
discharge from eye has disappeared.
Ask your Pharmacist for advice.
  • Follow the Diet Hints.
  • Your Pharmacist might suggest a suitable antibacterial eye drop
    or ointment if the Conjunctivitis is bacterial in origin. A product
    containing dibromopropamidine might be suggested although it is not
    to be used in infants of two years of age and under. Sulfacetamide
    sodium eye drops are also effective but should not be used by
    pregnant women. Remember that eye drops have a limited shelf life
    once opened. 
  • Use cotton buds to help clear any matter from around the eye.
    Use them only once as Conjunctivitis is very contagious.
  • If Conjunctivitis is caused by an allergy an antihistamine eye
    drop might be suggested. Ask your Pharmacist. An artificial tear
    drop may also be suggested for some relief.
  • Wear sunglasses in direct sunlight because infected eyes may be
    sensitive to light.
  • To enhance the immune system of the body if the diet is
    inadequate, consider some vitamin C to enhance the natural immune
    system. Other supplements include vitamin B3 and vitamin B6.
  • If the ailment is not responding to treatment see your
  • Avoid eye makeup where possible as cosmetics might cause