Viral vs Bacterial Pink Eye

Viral vs Bacterial Pink Eye

Viral vs Bacterial pink eye conjunctivitis causes similar symptoms. However, bacterial conjunctivitis can produce thicker discharge and cause pain and swelling.

Bacterial and viral conjunctivitis can be difficult to tell apart. However, people who have viral conjunctivitis usually have had a viral illness or have had recent contact with someone with a viral illness. This can help healthcare professionals make a distinction.

Both types of conjunctivitis can improve without medical treatment. However, a person may need antibiotic eye drops for bacterial conjunctivitis. Some rarer types of bacterial conjunctivitis can progress quickly and require urgent treatment.

Viral vs bacterial pink eye – Causes

Types of conjunctivitis

Conjunctivitis can be of two types: Infectious and non-infectious:

Non-infectious conjunctivitis is not contagious and is caused by allergens like pollen, dust, etc.

Infectious conjunctivitis is very contagious. It can spread easily from person to person. It has the following types:

Viral conjunctivitis

As a type of infectious conjunctivitis, viral conjunctivitis is very contagious. The virus can spread to your eyes if you touch them with contaminated hands. It can be spread through tears, eye discharge, mucus droplets, or saliva.

Adenoviruses usually cause viral conjunctivitis. But rubella virus, herpes virus, varicella-zoster virus, Epstein-Barr virus, and some picornaviruses can also cause viral conjunctivitis.

Bacterial conjunctivitis

Bacterial conjunctivitis is also very contagious. It can spread if your eyes come into contact with contaminated objects such as contact lenses. You can catch it through hand-to-eye contact, during sexual acts involving eye-to-genital contact, or from mother to baby. The bacteria can also be spread through respiratory droplets.

These bacteria can cause bacterial conjunctivitis:

  • Hemophilic flu
  • Streptococcal pneumonia
  • Chlamydia trachomatis
  • Staphylococcus aureus
  • Moraxella catarrhalis
  • Neisseria gonorrhea
  • Lacunated Moraxella
  • Neisseria meningitides

Viral vs Bacterial Pink Eye – Symptoms

If you have pink eyes, it could be viral or bacterial. These differences between bacterial and viral conjunctivitis can help you find out what you have.

Symptoms of Viral conjunctivitis

The main symptom of viral conjunctivitis is conjunctivitis. But a person with viral conjunctivitis also has a cold, cough, sneezing, or respiratory infection, which is a telltale sign of a viral infection.

Depending on the virus, other symptoms may also be observed. These symptoms can help doctors diagnose the underlying infection causing viral conjunctivitis. Adenoviruses can cause symptoms such as fever and sore throat. Certain adenoviruses and the herpes virus can cause keratoconjunctivitis, or inflammation of the conjunctiva and cornea of the eye. The rubella or measles virus can cause rash, fever and cough.

Symptoms of bacterial conjunctivitis

The signs and symptoms of bacterial conjunctivitis overlap with other causes of conjunctivitis, including viral and allergic conjunctivitis, which can make diagnosis difficult. Typical signs and symptoms include:

  • Red or pink eyes
  • Eye discharge
  • Eyes covered in crusts due to secretions that make it difficult to open
  • Chemosis or blisters on the outer surface of the eye
  • Reduced vision
  • Swelling and pain in the eyelids

Viral vs Bacterial Pink Eye: Their Treatments

If you have conjunctivitis, you should wash your hands regularly, use separate towels and avoid close contact with other people. Also avoid wearing contact lenses as they could be contaminated with bacteria or viruses. This can increase the risk of getting keratitis or inflammation of the cornea.

Treatment of viral conjunctivitis

Viral conjunctivitis has no specific treatment. Your doctor may prescribe antihistamines or cold compresses to reduce symptoms.

Antiviral medications may be used in severe cases of herpes or varicella-zoster virus infection.

Treatment of bacterial conjunctivitis

Bacterial conjunctivitis is treated with antibiotics in the form of eye drops or injections. Viral conjunctivitis often goes away on its own within a few days and does not require medical treatment. On the other hand, bacterial conjunctivitis requires antibiotic treatment.

If you have severe infectious conjunctivitis, your doctor may suggest an antiseptic and steroids to reduce swelling or inflammation.

Bottom Line

Viral pink eye and bacterial pink eye are the two common types of pink eye.

It’s important to understand the distinction between viral and bacterial conjunctivitis, as these two eye infections can often be confusing.

Viral conjunctivitis is caused by viruses such as herpes or adenovirus and usually goes away on its own within 2 to 3 days.

Its symptoms include a clear, watery discharge, as well as cold-like symptoms.

In contrast, bacterial conjunctivitis is caused by bacteria such as Haemophilus Influenzae, Streptococcus Pneumoniae and Moraxella catarrhalis and can go away within a week.

Bacterial pink eye infection often involves a sticky yellow or green discharge.

While viral conjunctivitis usually goes away on its own, bacterial conjunctivitis benefits from antibiotic treatment which can speed healing.

Remember that viral and bacterial pink eye infections are highly contagious and spread through direct contact.

It is therefore important to follow certain preventive measures to minimize the spread of these eye infections.

In any case, consulting a trusted healthcare provider is essential to receive an accurate diagnosis and treatment.

Depending on your eye condition, your doctor may prescribe appropriate medications for pink eye.

Frequently asked Questions

How do you know if conjunctivitis is viral or bacterial?

Eye discharge associated with infection can help distinguish viral and bacterial pink eye. Bacterial conjunctivitis often causes sticky yellow or green discharge, while viral eye discharge is clear and watery. However, it is best to consult a doctor for an accurate diagnosis of your eye disease.

Can I use the same eye drops for viral and bacterial rose?

No, you should not use the same drops for pink eyes of viral and bacterial origin. These two infections have different causes and require different therapeutic products. Therefore, it is better to consult a doctor for accurate and effective treatment of pink eye.

Is viral pink eye more contagious than bacterial pink eye?

Yes, viral rose may be more contagious than bacterial rose in some ways. Viruses such as adenovirus may be transmitted more easily through respiratory vapors than bacteria.

Can the viral rose turn into a bacterial rose?

No, viral rose cannot directly transform into bacterial rose. These two pink eye infections have distinct causes and therefore cannot lead to other types of infections.

Is viral rose worse than bacterial rose?

No, viral rose is not necessarily worse than bacterial rose. However, due to the lack of effective medications, viral conjunctivitis can cause more prolonged eye discomfort than bacterial conjunctivitis.