Feel Better Faster with Dr. Karli Urban

eye with conjunctivitis
Although allergic conjunctivitis is not contagious, bacterial and viral conjunctivitis can easily be spread to others.

It’s no secret that getting together with family and friends during the holidays can provide the perfect opportunity to share infections caused by viruses and bacteria. One infection that can easily be spread is conjunctivitis, better known as pinkeye.

Pinkeye often has a quick onset and is characterized by eye redness and discomfort as well as tearing or eye discharge, increased sensitivity to light and crusting along the lashes. There are three common causes of conjunctivitis, and each has a different treatment.

Karli Urban, MD
Dr. Karli Urban


It is not uncommon to experience symptoms of conjunctivitis during allergy season. Just as allergens can make your nose runny and your throat scratchy, they can also cause your eyes to be watery and itchy. Fortunately, this type of conjunctivitis is not infectious and is improved with treatment of your allergies.


Bacteria are a common cause of conjunctivitis, and this type of conjunctivitis spreads easily. Oftentimes, a person with bacterial conjunctivitis has been around someone else with similar symptoms. This kind of pinkeye is particularly common among young children. When conjunctivitis is caused by a bacteria, it can be treated with antibiotic drops or ointment applied to the affected eye. Typically patients recovery quickly, but it is important to complete the antibiotic treatment as prescribed.


Viruses are another common cause of pinkeye. This type of eye irritation often shows up with cold-like symptoms and typically improves in five to seven days. Like other viral illnesses, pinkeye caused by a virus does not need treatment with an antibiotic.

Although allergic conjunctivitis is not contagious, bacterial and viral conjunctivitis can easily be spread to others. When you have pinkeye, it’s especially important to wash your hands frequently and avoid rubbing your eyes. To determine if you have conjunctivitis, you can schedule an appointment with your primary care physician or visit Mizzou Quick Care or Mizzou Urgent Care.

If you aren’t feeling well, aren’t able to see your primary care physician and are not sure if you should go to Mizzou Quick Care, Mizzou Urgent Care or the emergency room, check out our guide: Choosing the Right Level of Care. Our goal is to take care of your acute injury and illness needs so you can return to your busy life.

Mizzou Urgent Care
551 E. Southampton Dr.
Columbia, MO 65201
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