Overview of Conjunctivitis

Conjunctivitis (also known as "pink eye") is an inflammation of the conjunctiva, which is the thin, clear tissue that lies over the white part of the eye and also lines the inside of the eyelids. Conjunctivitis can be caused by infection, irritants, or allergies.

Signs & Symptoms

Red eye and irritation are usually the main presenting symptoms of all types of conjunctivitis:

  • Viral conjunctivitis: thin or watery discharge, sometimes tender lymph nodes can be palpated in front of the ears.
  • Bacterial conjunctivitis: thicker, cloudy or pus-like discharge.
  • Allergic conjunctivitis: increased tearing or scant white stringy discharge, itching & often mild eyelid and conjunctival swelling.


If someone with whom you have contact has conjunctivitis, be sure to wash your hands thoroughly & often, and also keep your hands away from your eyes. Avoid sharing washcloths, towels, pillowcases, eye make-up.

Allergic conjunctivitis can be minimized by decreasing exposure to certain allergens or using medications, such as anti-histamines, that control symptoms

Irritant conjunctivitis can be prevented by avoiding areas of high pollution such as dust & smoke, maintaining proper daily cleansing routine of contact lenses or periodic usage of sterile saline lubricating eye drops.


The treatment for conjunctivitis depends on the cause. In general, eye drops or ointments may need to be applied to the inside of the eyelid several times a day for a period of time.

How We Can Help

  • If you would like to be seen by our medical staff, please contact our Appointment Desk to schedule an appointment.
  • Also, our Advice Nurse service is available at no charge for all UC Davis students to discuss health concerns and the need for medical care.