What else can I do to prevent getting pink eye again?
September 13, 2014 2:59 AM   Subscribe

I've gotten pink eye twice in two months. Other than regular hand washing and refraining from touching my eyes, what can I do to prevent myself from getting it again?

I got pink eye (conjunctivitis) in one eye last month. Got some prescription antibiotic drops and it cleared up. After that, I was much more careful about keeping my hands clean and not touching my eyes. Well, yesterday morning my left eye got infected again, and I just now it looks like it's spread to my right eye. I have drops left over from before so that's taken care of, but what the heck else can I do to prevent it from happening again? Should I be rinsing my eyes out several times a day with some sort of saline wash?

An important(?) tidbit: I have been taking Accutane for just over two months. I'm 34 and I've never had pink eye before in my life. I am pretty much convinced that this is an indirect result of the Accutane -- it's making my eyes dry and itchy, so I was rubbing them (I know this is bad and I have stopped doing this), and also as they are drier they are less able to flush out irritants, and Dr. Google seems to back me up on this. So for the time being it looks like I'm extra susceptible to this.

(Anonymous because this is an icky medical question.)
posted by anonymous to Health & Fitness (15 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I have dry eye issues and keep lubricating eye drops on hand. They don't have any redness relieving properties, just the lubricant. My favorite is Visine Tears Dry Eye Relief, but there are a number of different kinds with slightly different lubricants.
posted by bizzyb at 4:43 AM on September 13, 2014

Also - if you're a makeup wearer, you'll want to toss your mascara and replace post-pinkeye. Clean any makeup brushes that might be affected too.
posted by bizzyb at 4:46 AM on September 13, 2014 [5 favorites]

Make up and make up brushes are a big source of reinfection. Toss your mascara, wash or replace your make up brushes, you may need to replace eyelid primers, eye creams and eye shadows etc too. Oh and replace make up sponges if you use them.
posted by wwax at 5:24 AM on September 13, 2014 [1 favorite]

No contact lenses, and new pillow cases every night (sometimes it's just easier if you put a hand or dish towel down instead if you have a bunch of those). Also, be careful with reusing whatever it is you wash/dry your face with - clean wash cloth, etc.
posted by dancinglamb at 5:31 AM on September 13, 2014 [3 favorites]

I'm not familiar with the dosage of antibiotic eyedrops, but, would one prescription contain enough liquid for two full courses? Or does your having drops 'left over' mean that you didn't finish the first course fully? With antibiotics, if you don't take them for the complete # of days prescribed, you're killing off the weaker germs and leaving the stronger ones to keep reproducing. (I also don't know how long it takes liquid antibiotics to go inert, I'd call your doctor's office to find out if they need to call in a refill, or if you need to be switched to a different antibiotic.)
posted by oh yeah! at 5:45 AM on September 13, 2014 [1 favorite]

As for daily relief eyedrops, you will want Systane Ultra. They are -the best- eye drops. They're thick, almost very slightly greasy, and are ridiculously amazing. I used to use eye drops like 3-4 times throughout the day. Now I only need them once.

Also expensive, unfortunately, so check online for a coupon or something.
posted by phunniemee at 6:18 AM on September 13, 2014

If you are a makeup wearer, toss ALL of your eye makeup. I know it isn't cheap, but it is definitely a great way to ensure you aren't recontaminating yourself.
posted by heathrowga at 6:27 AM on September 13, 2014

Toss all your eye makeup (if applicable), wash your bed linens in hot water, throw away any contact lenses you've worn in the past three months (just to be sure), and get some lubricating eye drops.
posted by cooker girl at 6:50 AM on September 13, 2014

Years ago I got pink eye which was cleared with antibiotic eye drops. Several weeks later it came back. After a couple visits to my PCP, I was referred to an ophthalmologist, who diagnosed it as blepharitis (my symptoms were almost exactly like normal conjuctivitis except recurring) and prescribed a regimen of warm compresses on my eyes everyday. He said it was a chronic condition and I might need to keep up with the routine indefinitely, but after a month or two I stopped and it didn't return.

If it doesn't clear up with the eye drops or comes back again, I'd suggest seeing an eye doctor in case that's what you have.
posted by justkevin at 6:54 AM on September 13, 2014 [1 favorite]

It's probably directly related to the Accutane. Hopefully the dry eye problems will resolve once you stop taking it, but in the meantime I would follow the advice above re: hygiene and moisturizing eye drops (don't get medicated ones, just get replacement tears) and get a new prescription for antibiotics, don't reuse the ones you had. Be careful not to touch the tip of the applicator to your eye, and after applying each drop keep your eye closed (gently, not squeezing) for a good minute or two. Alternatively you can hold your finger on the inner (nose-side) corner of your eye. These techniques will keep you from reabsorbing the drops, keeping it in contact with the eyes longer.
posted by eldiem at 7:59 AM on September 13, 2014

Use warm compresses liberally, a clean rag every time and not using the same area on the rag for each eye. Keep at it throughout the day, before you're tempted to even rub them in the morning, last thing before bed. Throwing away all eye makeup and over washing bed linens is a little extreme, though you'll want to wash the rags in very hot water. Warm clean compresses as much as possible will usually suffice, massaging the inner corner of your eye with them helps . A sterile saline rinse a couple times a day is not a bad idea at all. Stay hydrated. Don't avoid your eye doctor if it gets worse.
posted by lawliet at 9:12 AM on September 13, 2014

Also, be careful with reusing whatever it is you wash/dry your face with - clean wash cloth, etc.

Nthing this. I use Kleenex to pat my face dry after washing and clean the sleep out of my eyes. Yes, this means I go through lots of Kleenex, but anecdotally, I cannot remember the last time I had pink eye (knock on wood).

I also have chronic dry eye. Systane Ultra (the one in the purple box) and single-use, non-preservative TheraTears have been most helpful to me. There is a smorgasbord of eye drops out there, so I used the resources at the DryEyeZone to help me narrow down the list.
posted by invisible ink at 10:51 AM on September 13, 2014

Other than regular hand washing and refraining from touching my eyes

Actually doing these two things will solve the problem, but in the interval wash your pillowcase and don't re-use rags or towels.
posted by rr at 12:04 PM on September 13, 2014

My boss has chronic dry eyes as does the rest of her family and she swears by flaxseed oil.
May want to see if taking that helps at all.
posted by gregjunior at 5:17 PM on September 13, 2014

Just chiming in to say this happened to me, and it was my contact lens case. I had thrown out the contacts I'd had during the first infection, but hadn't thought about the case. Just a thought.
posted by bluloo at 9:26 PM on September 13, 2014 [1 favorite]

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