Allergies Vs. Pink Eye: How to Tell the Difference

child with allergies

It’s easy to get confused between pink eye and allergies. After all, they share some common symptoms, so it’s not that easy to determine which one your child has. Because both allergies and pink eye are types of conjunctivitis (which means the conjunctiva is inflamed). The conjunctiva is the outer layer of the membrane covering your eyeball and the inside of the eyelids. 

In this post, Your Kids Urgent Care in Orlando, FL, shares more information on the different types of conjunctivitis, including pink eye and allergies, so you’ll know their differences and understand them better:

Different Types of Conjunctivitis

The main difference between allergies and pink eye is the cause of the inflammation. Pink eye is actually an infection that may either be caused by bacteria or a virus. Allergies, on the other hand, are triggered by such irritants as pets or pollen. 

Now, let’s take a closer look at the different types of conjunctivitis you need to be aware of:

Allergic Conjunctivitis

Aside from the tearing and the red eyes, allergies can also feel itchy and sore. Some even describe it as a burning feeling. There might be some swelling and a gritty feeling inside the eye. Some other signs of allergies like a runny nose and sneezing may be present, too. 

Allergic conjunctivitis isn’t contagious, and the symptoms can be easily treated. For some, over-the-counter-allergy medicines can help, but most allergists recommend that you get focused treatment. If your child is wearing contact lenses when the allergies start, they should remove the contact lenses at once. 

Bacterial Conjunctivitis

Bacterial conjunctivitis is a type of “pink eye” and is less common than viral pink eye. Its symptoms are different from that of a viral pink eye and an allergy. The most common symptom of bacterial conjunctivitis is a crusty and yellowish or greenish discharge that can make your eyelids stick together. Redness is usually just in one eye, and itchiness is not that common. 

The treatment for this type of conjunctivitis often includes eye drops and antibiotic ointments. Because bacterial conjunctivitis is contagious, you have to remind your child to wash their hands constantly and avoid touching their eyes to prevent spreading. 

Viral Conjunctivitis

Viral conjunctivitis is the most common type of pink eye, and this one is quite hard to stop from spreading once someone has it because it’s highly contagious. It can be transferred like a cold, and you don’t need direct contact with a person with pink eyes to get infected. Many people get infected by just touching a surface that an infected person has touched. 

The discharge is more watery in viral conjunctivitis. Viral pink eye typically goes away on its own after a couple of weeks, but it could progress to bacterial pink eye. 


It is essential to know which type of conjunctivitis your child has before giving treatment. If you are unsure, it’s best to have your child’s eyes checked by a medical practitioner. Remember that allergies may not be contagious, but bacterial and viral pink eyes are. You don’t want to put the other family members at risk by assuming that what your child has is allergic conjunctivitis. At the first sign of infection, you should consider getting urgent care for kids in Orlando, FL, to ensure that the problem does not worsen. 

Your Kids Urgent Care is a trusted center that offers superior pediatric services. We provide urgent care in Orlando, FL. Take your child to our clinic or schedule a telemedicine consultation no matter what hour and we’ll have their symptoms checked at once!

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