Pinkeye (Conjunctivitis): Symptoms & Signs

  • Medical Author:
    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.

Medically Reviewed on 5/15/2017

Pinkeye, or conjunctivitis, is characterized by reddening of the conjunctiva of the eyes, discharge from the eyes, and can be accompanied by other signs of infection like sinus congestion and runny nose. The eyelids may also be swollen.

With bacterial infections, there may be pus drainage from the affected eye.

Other symptoms of infection can accompany pinkeye, such as cough or earache.

Allergies can lead to redness in the affected eye along with tearing and intense itching.

Causes of pinkeye (conjunctivitis)

Pinkeye can be caused either by infectious or noninfectious processes. When infections are responsible, most cases are due to viral infections. Viruses likely to cause pinkeye include adenovirus, herpes simplex virus (HSV), varicella-zoster virus (VZV), poxvirus (molluscum contagiosum, vaccinia), picornavirus (enterovirus 70, Coxsackie A24), and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). Bacterial infections can also cause pinkeye symptoms, however. Staphylococci and streptococci are types of bacteria that commonly cause pinkeye, although gonococci and Chlamydia trachomatis may also cause bacterial pinkeye.

Allergic reactions are one cause of noninfectious pinkeye. Irritation, from chemical vapors, smoke, dust, or other fumes may cause noninfectious pinkeye.

Related Symptoms & Signs


Yeung, Karen K. "Bacterial Conjunctivitis." Apr. 18, 2017. <>.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 5/15/2017
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