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Viral vs Bacterial Pink Eye: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment

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Written by- Gina Walters
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Viral and Bacterial Pink Eye are two highly contagious eye conditions that may spread from one person to another. 

Viral Pink Eye is normally caused by a virus. On the other hand, Bacterial Pink Eye is caused by various bacterias.

Many people are curious about the difference between Viral and Bacterial Pink Eye to understand the conditions better. 

Let us compare Viral vs Bacterial Pink Eye and help you understand their symptoms, causes, duration, and treatment options.

Viral vs Bacterial Pink Eye symptoms

Viral and Bacterial Pink Eye may share some common symptoms like redness, itching, and swelling in the affected eye. 

However, the two conditions also have some distinct symptoms as well that may help differentiate between the two. 

The main Viral Pink Eye symptoms include flu, cold, and respiratory infections.

On the other hand, Bacterial Pink Eye symptoms include light sensitivity, eyelids sticking together, and more. 

The Pink Eye discharge is also different in Viral and Bacterial Pink Eye and can be a differentiating factor between the two conditions. 

Viral Pink Eye results in a watery discharge, while Bacterial Pink Eye results in a thick mucus discharge. 

Consult a doctor to discuss your symptoms and medical history. 

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Causes and duration of Viral and Bacterial Pink Eye

bacterial-pink-eye-treatmentSource: angeljana
Closeup of a woman suffering from Bacterial pink eye

As mentioned, Viral Conjunctivitis is caused due to viral infection, while Bacterial Conjunctivitis is caused due to bacterial infection. 

A study states that bacteria like Streptococcus, Staphylococcus, and more can lead to the problem of Bacterial Pink Eye

Mild Bacterial Pink Eye may improve in 2-5 days without the need for any medical treatment. 

However, it may take 2 weeks to go away completely, and the doctor may prescribe antibiotics to help manage serious Bacterial Pink Eye.

On the other hand, Adenovirus is the major cause of Viral Pink Eye.

Viral Pink Eye is highly contagious for 10-14 days and may take up to one month to disappear entirely.

Consult a doctor if you are noticing any of the above symptoms and follow preventive measures. 

Explore and understand all the causes of Pink Eye. Read: Uncovering Pink Eye Causes: A Comprehensive Guide

Fact:
Allergic Pink Eye is another type of Pink Eye. However, the condition is not contagious but may get triggered by exposure to allergens. 

Treatment options for Viral and Bacterial Pink Eye

The Pink Eye treatment depends on the type and causes of the condition.

Bacterial Pink Eye is normally treated with antibiotic eye drops or ointments. 

Patients may notice an improvement in Bacterial Conjunctivitis symptoms within 3-4 days of treatment.

However, one should complete their full Bacterial Pink Eye treatment course to prevent the condition from returning.  

On the other hand, Viral Conjunctivitis resolves on its own or with the help of cool compress and artificial tear solutions. 

The doctors may also suggest antiviral medications for serious Viral Pink Eye treatment

One should consult a doctor for an accurate diagnosis and proper treatment.

Want to explore all Pink Eye treatments in detail? Read: All About Pink Eye Treatment: From Home Remedies to Medical Solutions

Warning:
Do not self-medicate, as it may lead to unwanted side effects. 

How to tell if Pink Eye is viral or bacterial

Allergic-pink-eyeSource: Africa's_Images
Allergic pink eye

Understanding whether a person has Viral or Bacterial Pink Eye is important for getting the right treatment.

However, it can be a difficult task as both conditions may show some common symptoms.

Viral Pink Eye vs Bacterial Pink Eye 

Basis of difference Viral Pink Eye Bacterial Pink Eye
CausesViruses, such as Adenoviruses and moreBacteria, such as Streptococcus, Staphylococcus, and more
Symptomsflu, cold, respiratory infections, eye redness, itching, and morelight sensitivity, sticking eyelids, eye redness, itching, and more
DischargeWatery dischargeThick, pus discharge
Symptoms duration1-2 weeksNormally improves within a few days with antibiotic treatment
ContagiousYesYes
Treatment optionsArtificial tears and cold compress may help with the symptoms, and doctors may suggest Antiviral medications in serious casesAntibiotics (topical), warm compress for comfort, and good hygiene to prevent spread

The above table may help identify if your Pink Eye is viral or bacterial. Consult a doctor for a proper diagnosis.

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Key takeaways

Viral vs Bacterial Pink Eye is a common topic, as they both are contagious conditions that may cause eye redness, itching, swelling, and more. 

However, these two conditions have different causes and treatment options.

Viral Conjunctivitis is caused due to viral infection, while Bacterial Conjunctivitis is caused due to bacterial infection.

Also, the treatment of Viral Pink Eye includes artificial tears, cold compress, and antiviral medications (serious cases).

On the other hand, Bacterial Pink Eye treatment includes antibiotic medicines and warm compress.

One should consult a doctor for an accurate diagnosis and treatment options.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is Viral Pink Eye worse than bacterial?

No, Viral Pink Eye is not worse than Bacterial Pink Eye. One can treat Bacterial Pink Eye more quickly with the help of antibiotics. However, Viral Pink Eye lasts longer and is highly contagious, making it challenging to manage.

Can Viral Pink Eye turn into bacterial Pink Eye?

No, Viral Pink Eye can not turn into Bacterial Pink Eye. The two conditions are different and have separate causes and treatment options.

How to tell if Pink Eye is bacterial or viral?

Eye discharge is an effective way to differentiate between Bacterial and Viral Pink Eye. Viral Pink Eye has a clear and watery discharge. But, Bacterial Pink Eye produces thick and pus discharge. Consult a doctor for an accurate diagnosis.

Which is the most common Pink Eye between viral and bacterial?

Research states that Viral Pink Eye is the most common form of Pink Eye. Bacterial Pink Eye is also common but less prevalent than Viral Conjunctivitis.

When to consult a doctor for Viral or Bacterial Pink Eye?

Consult a doctor for Viral or Bacterial Pink Eye if you experience serious symptoms like eye pain or vision changes. One can also consult a doctor if their current treatment plan is ineffective.

Citations:
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