The conjunctiva is a membrane on the surface of your eye and the inside of the eyelid. Conjunctivitis (or pink eye) occurs when irritation causes the blood vessels in the conjunctiva to become swollen, inflamed, and red. It often causes the eyes to water or create discharge.

Conjunctivitis Symptoms

Conjunctivitis may affect one or both eyes. The most common pink eye symptoms include:

  • Pink or red coloring and visible blood vessels in the eyes
  • Itching, burning, or irritation
  • Excessive tearing or discharge
  • Crusting or matting of the eyelids and lashes
  • Swelling of the eye and eyelids

Conjunctivitis Types

There are two main types of conjunctivitis


Contagious conjunctivitis may start in a single eye but often spreads quickly to the other eye. Viral infections cause about 80% of conjunctivitis cases and watery eyes and thin discharge are common. Bacterial infections are a much smaller percentage. The bacterial discharge tends to be much thicker and causes clumping and matting around the eyes. Both viral and bacterial types of conjunctivitis can easily spread through direct or indirect contact with the drainage from an infected eye.


Conjunctivitis symptoms can also result from allergies or foreign objects such as dirt or chemicals. This is not contagious. If it’s related to allergies, it will affect both eyes equally. Symptoms may also include sneezing, runny nose, asthma, or eczema.

All About Conjunctivitis Treatment

Conjunctivitis Treatment

Because most cases of conjunctivitis are from viral infections, antibiotics are not required. Mild bacterial conjunctivitis often gets better on its own as well. Symptoms can be treated with cool, wet cloths and hydrating eye drops.

Conjunctivitis Prevention

The best protection against conjunctivitis is proper hygiene. Beauty professionals need to be aware that they have the potential to prevent or cause both types of conjunctivitis with their therapy methods.

Prevention for professionals:

  • Carefully screen your clients for allergies and active eye irritations

  • Use proper application techniques and disposable tools

  • Never double-dip a dispensing tool

  • Do not blow on your makeup or brushes

  • Wash your hands OFTEN

  • Use a separate cotton ball or area of the washcloth on each eye

  • Never share or reuse towels, washcloths, or linens

  • Clean your cosmetic tools after use

Controlling the Spread of Conjunctivitis

The same hygiene practices that prevent infection also help control the spread of the infection. If a client has conjunctivitis, it is always best to reschedule their treatment.

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