Pink Eye vs. Stye: How to Identify and Treat Both

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If you’re having eye problems, you never want to wait too long to see a doctor for a diagnosis.

An estimated 6 million Americans deal with conjunctivitis each year. There may be many more undocumented cases because pink eye and styes are often confused with one another. Understanding which one you have is important for seeking out the right treatment.

In today’s post, we’ll discuss some of the similarities and differences between pink eye vs stye. When you know what the symptoms are, you’ll know when to see a doctor and what your treatment might look like.

Although both conditions are very treatable, complications can arise when your symptoms go ignored. Keep reading and we’ll help you get the correct eye infection treatment for your situation.

What Is Pink Eye (Conjunctivitis)?

From a technical standpoint, pink eye occurs when the conjunctiva – a membrane around your eyes and eyelids – becomes inflamed. The tiny blood vessels in the conjunctiva become irritated and start to appear swollen and red, which is where “pink eye” gets its name.

Pink eye is annoying and uncomfortable but rarely serious. That said, it’s contagious and, if it lingers for long, it can start to affect your vision. Understanding where it comes from and how to recognize it can help you get quick treatment to prevent it from worsening or spreading.

Pink Eye Causes

There are essentially 3 types of conjunctivitis – viral, bacterial, and allergic. The first two forms of pink eye are contagious and occur most often through hand-to-eye contact. It can also spread from a person’s nasal passage into their eyes.

Viral conjunctivitis is the most common type because it’s the most contagious, quickly spreading through crowded places. It’s caused by the same virus as the common cold that gives people runny noses and sore throats.

Also very contagious, bacterial conjunctivitis results from – you guessed it – a bacterial infection in the conjunctiva. This bacteria is often the same type of bacteria that causes strep throat.

Allergic conjunctivitis is an allergic reaction to things like pollen, smoke, animals, or pool chlorine. Although it’s not contagious at all, it’s very uncomfortable.

Pink Eye Symptoms

The symptoms of pink eye differ depending on which type you’ve contracted. Most commonly, pink eye will result in:

  • Pinkness or redness in one or both eyes
  • Itching, burning, and overall irritation in the eye
  • More drainage and discharge than usual coming from the eye
  • White-green pus coming from the eye
  • Blurred vision and eyelid swelling
  • Eyelids matted together with a gritty feeling in the eyes

To diagnose pink eye, a doctor will perform a comprehensive exam and look at a patient’s history. In rare circumstances, they may want to test any discharge to determine where the infection came from.

What Are Eye Styes (Hordeolum)?

Eye styes are painful bumps on the edge of the eyelid. Because they can cause a lot of irritation, swelling, and itching on the eye and eyelid, they’re easily confused with pink eye.

In reality, a stye is basically the same as a pimple, but on your eyelid. They occur when the glands on an eyelash follicle become blocked and cause an infection.

Styes generally only affect one eye, but it’s possible to get them on both eyelids. They often disappear on their own within a couple of weeks, but it’s important to see a doctor if it persists longer.

Types of Styes

There are two types of eye styes: external and internal.

An external stye forms on the outer part of the upper or lower eyelid and is more common, resulting from the blocked eyelash follicle. Internal eye styes occur on the inside of the eyelid when the gland that produces moisture becomes blocked and infected.

Neither type is particularly contagious, but bacteria are produced and can spread. You can avoid spreading any of the bacteria by refraining from touching the stye, except when you’re cleaning it or applying a warm cloth on it for comfort.

Eye Stye Symptoms

The telltale sign of a stye is a clear red bump on your eyelid. For internal styes, you may feel like there’s something scratchy in your eye.

Other than that, the symptoms of styes are similar to those of pink eye, namely:

  • Eyelid swelling and crusting
  • Pus or clear discharge from the eye
  • Soreness and itchiness
  • Light sensitivity

You’re more likely to get a stye if you’ve had one before. Some skin conditions can increase the risk of styes, as can conditions like diabetes, hormonal changes, and high cholesterol.

Eye Infection Treatment

You can use over-the-counter treatment to manage the symptoms of both conditions. Getting more intensive treatment will depend on your symptoms and the condition’s underlying cause.

Getting Pink Eye Relief

For minor pink eye, the most common treatment is allergy eye drops or artificial tears to lubricate the eye. You can try a cold compress to alleviate the inflammation. It’s also recommended to avoid wearing contact lenses while the condition persists, as it can worsen symptoms.

For more serious cases, your doctor will prescribe you antibiotics, which may be steroid or anti-viral eyedrops. You’ll also want to avoid contact with other people while you have pink eye so you can minimize the risk of spreading.

Getting Eye Stye Relief

Since styes aren’t considered serious and go away by themselves, you’ll likely manage your symptoms at home. It’s recommended to wash your hands, eyes, and face often while otherwise refraining from touching the area.

You can use a warm compress to alleviate the symptoms. A doctor may prescribe an ointment to apply to the stye if it doesn’t go away.

Pink Eye Vs Stye: Deal With Them Quickly

Now that you understand more about the pink eye vs stye debate, you can promptly treat whichever one you have. Since they’re more annoying than serious issues, there’s not a major cause for concern when you contract either condition, but you should still seek treatment.

At Kiwi, we have a huge selection of ointments, eyedrops, and supplements to help you manage the symptoms of pink eye and styes. As one of the top international online pharmacies in the world, we make it easy to select and pay for your medications. Visit our online shop today to deal with your eye problems.

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