Conjunctivitis in Pregnancy: Causes, Symptoms & Treatment

Conjunctivitis (Pink Eye) During Pregnancy

Conjunctivitis or pink eye is an inflammation that causes redness and discomfort in the eyes. It is transmitted when you come in close contact with someone who has the infection. Thus, anyone can contract conjunctivitis; however, getting a pink eye during pregnancy might worry you a bit more because of the added discomfort and concerns about foetal health. Therefore, it is always better to know what you could do to avoid contracting the infection during pregnancy or how you could treat it. Read on to know about conjunctivitis or pink eye during pregnancy.

What is Conjunctivitis?

Conjunctivitis is inflammation caused by virus/bacteria that affects the conjunctiva, which is a thin membrane located on the inside of the eyelids and on the surface of the eye. The causes of the infection are quite a few (described below); however, the infection is common and can be transmitted easily by touch or, as mentioned earlier, by coming in close contact with someone who has the infection.

What if I Contract Conjunctivitis During Pregnancy?

There is no cause for concern since it is a common infection in pregnant women. It does not cause any long-term effects or eye damage, unless ignored or if it persists beyond 1 week. The inflammation stays for roughly a week, and goes away by itself; however, the discomfort might be too irritating for pregnant women. There are medicines available that provide some respite from the burning sensation or itching in the eyes.

What Causes Conjunctivitis During Pregnancy?

A woman with conjunctivitis

Conjunctivitis may be linked to one of the following causes.

1. Bacteria

Conjunctivitis due to bacterial infections is one of the most common ways of contracting it. It causes redness in the eyes, along with itching, swelling, and yellow discharge. In some cases, bacterial conjunctivitis is accompanied by a cold, a sore throat, and at times, a respiratory infection. The most common cause of bacterial infection is wearing infected contact lenses.

2. Virus

A viral conjunctivitis is also a common form of pink eye. It can affect both the eyes at once and usually causes redness and itching, sometimes with a slight discharge from the eyes. This form is the most easily transmitted form of conjunctivitis and can also be accompanied by other symptoms like a cold and a sore throat.

3. Seasonal Allergy

Seasonal allergens are common and are responsible for causing conjunctivitis during pregnancy. It usually happens during springtime; you’ll notice that your eyes tear up, become red and turn itchy. A pollen allergy is the most common kind of allergy that causes conjunctivitis. The inflammation is also accompanied by sneezing.

4. Foreign Body

Our eyes generally start tearing up when a foreign particle like sand, dirt, dust enters them. Sometimes, a foreign particle can also cause conjunctivitis. In that case, you would also experience slight pain in the eye, redness, and some sort of discharge from the eyes. Conjunctivitis due to a foreign body that carries the virus/ bacteria can affect both the eyes also.

5. Rubbing the Eyes

Usually, rubbing your own eyes a bit too much could lead to redness and tearing, making them susceptible to contract conjunctivitis if you come in contact with someone who already has the infection. Also, bacteria or viruses that cause a pink eye can be transmitted from your own hands to your eyes if you do not maintain enough hygiene.

6. Physical Contact

Physical contact with a person with conjunctivitis can lead to you contracting the virus or the bacteria, as conjunctivitis spreads easily and has an incubation period of just 24 to 72 hours.

Common Symptoms of Pink Eye

Common symptoms of a pink eye during pregnancy are –

  • Redness accompanied by watery or yellow discharge

  • Redness and swelling in the eyes

  • Increased sensitivity to bright lights

  • Crusts around the eyelids

  • Grittiness in the eye

  • Itching and discomfort

  • Painful eyes

How to Treat Conjunctivitis When Pregnant

Here are some treatment options for conjunctivitis during pregnancy.

1. Antibiotics

Your doctor will examine your eyes to determine the type of conjunctivitis and prescribe appropriate antibiotics. Prescription antibiotics should be recommended by the physician, since some antibiotics may harm the foetus. Hence, you must let your doctor know that you are pregnant. This also applies if you’re trying to conceive.

2. Eye Drops

These are used for treating bacterial conjunctivitis; however, they are not very effective against chlamydial conjunctivitis. For other types of conjunctivitis, they provide respite from inflammation and also soothe your eyes.

Natural/ Home Remedies for Pink Eye During Pregnancy

Natural/ home remedies could help treat conjunctivitis during pregnancy. Read on to know some of them.

1. Warm Compress

A warm compress relieves dry eye symptoms and improves blood circulation. It also reduces inflammation and can be effective in decreasing the discomfort in the eyes. Having said that, you need to maintain hygiene and ensure nobody touches the used compress; else, they will contract the infection.

2. Rosewater

You can use rosewater in the form of remedial eye drops to cleanse your eyes and eliminate any particles or irritants. Rosewater also soothes and cools the eyes. Use good quality rosewater though to treat your eyes if you have the inflammation.

3. Green Tea Bags

Tea bags are a great home remedy to care for your eyes and are especially useful to reduce the appearance of dark circles and soothe tired eyes. They are, therefore, also recommended for conjunctivitis. Dip some green tea bags in boiling water, let them cool, squeeze the water and keep them on the eyes for a few minutes every day. Do not transfer the tea bags from one eye to the other and dispose of them immediately after use.

4. Proper Hygiene

Hygiene plays an important role in preventing and treating conjunctivitis. Keep your hands clean at all times and avoid touching your eyes too often. Also, use a clean, soft towel to wipe the discharge.

5. Honey

Honey has anti-bacterial properties; thus, it can be a home remedy for bacterial conjunctivitis. It can also stop the infection from spreading and reduce redness in the eyes. Mix 2 teaspoons of honey in boiled and cooled water. Use this to wash the affected eyes twice or thrice in a day.

6. Homoeopathic Remedy

Homoeopathic remedies can also be an alternative to allopathic medicines available to treat pink eye. However, we do recommend you to consult a trustworthy homoeopathic doctor instead of buying over-the-counter medicines.

7. Colloidal Silver

Silver solutions or colloidal silver is used for treating eye infections during pregnancy. The ointment version is preferred by most mothers and doctors. However, this is to be used only after consulting your doctor.

8. Rinsing With Saltwater Solution

Rinsing your eyes with salt water solution is another effective home remedy for conjunctivitis. Salt also has cleansing and anti-microbial properties which can help treat pink eye.

9. Raw Potatoes

This remedy may sound crazy, but slices of peeled fresh, raw, and cold potatoes are effective in soothing pain caused by conjunctivitis. Ensure you wash the potatoes thoroughly to avoid any dirt entering into your eyes.

10. Cold Compress

Just like a warm compress, a cold compress can also provide quite some amount of respite from the redness and discomfort caused during conjunctivitis. Ensure you use different washcloths for each eye to prevent the infection from transmitting. You may avoid this remedy is you have a cold, a fever, or if you suffer from sinusitis.

11. Tulsi/ Holy Basil

Tulsi or holy basil is known for its healing properties and fights against fungal, bacterial, and viral conjunctivitis. Soak the leaves in boiled water for 10 minutes and use as an eyewash, or soak some clean cotton pads in this water, squeeze the excess, and keep them on the eyes.

12. Aloe Vera Gel

Aloe vera helps reduce inflammation. Apply some aloe vera gel on your eyelids and keep them for a few minutes. The gel helps cool the eyes and reduces itching and swelling around the eyes.

13. Turmeric

Turmeric can also be a good home remedy to treat conjunctivitis. Take two tablespoons of turmeric powder and mix it in a cup of boiling water. Using a washcloth or cotton pads, apply the mixture over your eyelids.

How to Prevent Pink Eye During Pregnancy

You can prevent pink eye during pregnancy by taking the following measures –

  • Avoid sharing eye drops, eye wipes, and cosmetics with others.

  • Avoid physical contact with people with inflammation.

  • Protect your eyes with glasses; prevent dust particles and dirt from entering the eyes.

  • Wash your hands and maintain hygiene.

  • Rinse your eyes with clean water regularly and dry them properly with a clean, soft towel.

Can Conjunctivitis Affect Pregnancy?

Non-pharmacological treatments are preferred for treating conjunctivitis, since they prevent complications and risks, especially during pregnancy. Do not self-medicate, as it can pose the risk of causing complications.

Conjunctivitis goes away naturally in a matter of weeks. If you notice it persisting for over a week, contact your doctor and seek immediate treatment.

Also Read:

Shortness of Breath during Pregnancy
Cough and Cold during Pregnancy
Acidity during Pregnancy

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