Avoidance. Your first line of defense is to avoid the cause of conjunctivitis. Both viral and bacterial conjunctivitis spread easily to others. Here are some tips to avoid spreading the conditions or re-infecting yourself:
- Wash your hands frequently, and avoid touching or rubbing your eyes.
- Don’t share washcloths, towels or pillowcases with anyone else, and wash these items after each use.
- Don’t share eyedrops or cosmetics such as eyeliner, eye shadow or mascara. Replace them after you’re healed, to avoid re-infection.
- Your eyecare practitioner may recommend that you discontinue contact lens wear during this time or replace your contact lenses after you’re healed.
- Warm compresses may help soothe your eyes if you have viral or bacterial conjunctivitis.
To avoid allergic conjunctivitis, keep windows and doors closed on days when the pollen is heavy. Dust and vacuum frequently to alleviate potential allergens in the home. Stay in well-ventilated areas if you’re exposed to smoke, chemicals or fumes. Cold compresses can be very soothing.
If you’ve developed giant papillary conjunctivitis, odds are you’re a contact lens wearer. You’ll need to stop wearing your contact lenses, at least for a little while. Your eye doctor may also recommend that you switch to a different type of contact lens, to prevent the conjunctivitis from recurring. For example, you might need to go from soft contacts to gas permeable ones, or vice versa, or you might need to switch to a type of lens that you replace more frequently, such as from conventional contact lenses to daily disposable ones. GPC can also result from prosthetics, stitches and more. Your eye doctor will decide if removal is appropriate.
Medication. Doctors don’t normally prescribe medication for viral conjunctivitis because it usually clears up on its own within a few days. Antibiotic eyedrops will alleviate bacterial conjunctivitis, whereas antihistamine allergy pills or eyedrops will help control allergic conjunctivitis symptoms. For giant papillary conjunctivitis, your doctor may prescribe eyedrops to reduce inflammation and itching.
Usually, conjunctivitis is a minor eye infection, but sometimes it can develop into a more serious condition. See your eye doctor for a diagnosis before using any eyedrops in your medicine cabinet from previous infections or eye problems.