Allergic Conjunctivitis in Teens: Care Instructions
Allergic conjunctivitis (say "kun-JUNK-tih-VY-tus") is an eye problem that many teens get. It is often called pink eye. In pink eye, the lining of the eyelid and the eye surface become red and swollen. The lining is called the conjunctiva (say "kawn-junk-TY-vuh").
Pink eye can be caused by bacteria, a virus, or an allergy.
Your pink eye is caused by an allergy. A substance (allergen) triggers a reaction that results in the symptoms. This type of pink eye cannot be spread from person to person. You may have other symptoms of an allergy, such as a runny nose.
Allergic pink eye goes away when you keep away from the allergen that triggers the pink eye. Triggers include pollen, mould, and animal skin cells (dander). But because it is not always possible to stay away from triggers, your doctor may suggest eyedrops to treat the symptoms. Antibiotics do not help with allergies.
Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse advice line (811 in most provinces and territories) if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.
How can you care for yourself at home?
Use medicines as directed
- Take medicines exactly as prescribed. Call your doctor or nurse advice line if you are having a problem with your medicine. You will get more details on the specific medicines your doctor prescribes.
- If the doctor gave you eyedrops, use them as directed. Keep the bottle tip clean. To put in eyedrops:
- Tilt your head back, and pull your lower eyelid down with one finger.
- Drop or squirt the medicine inside the lower lid.
- Close your eye for 30 to 60 seconds to let the drops move around.
- Do not touch the tip of the bottle to your eyelashes or any other surface.
Make yourself comfortable
- Use moist cotton or a clean, wet cloth to remove the crust from your eyes. Wipe from the inside corner of the eye to the outside. Use a clean part of the cloth for each wipe.
- Close your eyes and put cold or warm wet cloths on them a few times a day if your eyes hurt or are itching.
- Do not wear contact lenses until the pink eye is gone. Clean the contacts and storage case.
- If you wear disposable contacts, get out a new pair when your eyes have cleared and it is safe to wear contacts again.
- Try to find what triggers the pink eye. Then take steps to avoid it. For example:
- Control animal dander and other pet allergens by keeping pets only in certain areas of your home.
- Avoid outdoor pollens by staying inside while pollen counts are high.
- Control indoor mould by cleaning bathtubs and showers monthly.
When should you call for help?
Call your doctor or nurse advice line now or seek immediate medical care if:
- You have pain in an eye, not just irritation on the surface.
- You have a change in vision or a loss of vision.
- Pink eye lasts longer than 7 days.
Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse advice line if:
- You do not get better as expected.
Where can you learn more?
Go to https://www.healthwise.net/patientEd
Enter Z150 in the search box to learn more about "Allergic Conjunctivitis in Teens: Care Instructions".
Current as of: March 9, 2022
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine & Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine & William H. Blahd Jr. MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine