Can a cold cause eye discharge? Yes, if it’s accompanied by viral conjunctivitis. When we’re sick, our eyes may be watery, red, and irritated. Viral pink eye can develop in people who have upper respiratory infections, the common cold, or the flu. This type of pink eye can be easily spread via coughing and sneezing, which means, it’s highly contagious. Many of these symptoms are similar to what you can experience with eye allergies or dry eye syndrome, however, in this case, the symptoms will often resolve on their own after a period of a few days.
Can a cold cause eye discharge? Yes, some people will develop the viral form of conjunctivitis if they’re battling a cold, the flu, or an upper respiratory infection. Fortunately, this condition will resolve on its own in three to five days. Signs of viral pink eye will include eye discharge, redness, swelling, itching, and burning. If your symptoms don’t seem to be improving by day three, seek medical attention.
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Like all other forms of pink eye, viral conjunctivitis will begin in one eye and will spread to the other. This is usually due to the infected person touching or rubbing one eye and then touching the other eye without washing their hands.
While the symptoms are relatively mild, in some cases, they can be severe, especially if swelling is present. Common symptoms will include:
- Red eyes
- Dry eyes
- Swelling of the eyelids
- Feeling of grit trapped under the eyelid
- Mild to moderate pain
Eye discharge can be minimal or severe enough to affect your vision. The discharge can be yellow, white, or green in color. Typically, it will have a mucus-like consistency, but it can also be very watery. During sleep the build-up of the discharge can cause the eyes to become crusted shut. Upon waking, use a hot damp washcloth to gently remove eye crust. Avoid rubbing your eyes to prevent worsening of symptoms such as redness, swelling, and itching.
This type of pink eye can also produce eye pain and headache, which often begins on the second day. Unfortunately, there is no cure for this viral form of conjunctivitis. This means prescription ointments and drops will have no effect since this is a virus, not a bacterial infection. Because the discharge and swelling can have a major impact on your vision and comfort level, learning how to relieve watery eyes can help to keep you comfortable when the symptoms peak, usually around the second or third day.
Fortunately, this condition will usually resolve on its own, as you slowly get over your cold. In most cases, it will begin to improve on the third or fifth day.
Treatment can involve over the counter or prescription eye drops that can help to reduce itching and swelling. To keep symptoms under control, try a hot compress on the eyes two to three times a day. This will not only help to soothe skin irritation, but it can also help to minimize swelling and pain. At this time, it’s very important that you focus on not touching your eyes with your hands, in order to avoid spreading it to other people in the home. If you do rub your eyes, make sure you wash your hands right away. Bleaching the common areas in the home can help to prevent the spread of the virus. Remember, this infection is highly contagious.
Is Medical Attention Necessary?
Typically, this form of pink eye will not cause any further complications. However, if a cold isn’t to blame, and the conjunctivitis is caused by certain viruses such as herpes simplex, the shingles, or chicken pox, then treatment may be required to prevent any lasting eye problems. If this form of conjunctivitis occurs in babies or people with a weak immune system then medical treatment will be necessary. To learn more about viral eye infections in infants read my article on what causes eye discharge in babies.
Is it Viral Pink Eye or Blepharitis?
Many people will mistakenly believe they have viral pink eye or a stye, when in fact it’s actually blepharitis. These conditions share many of the same symptoms, such as swelling, a gritty feeling, discharge, and redness. However, unlike pink eye, blepharitis involves the inflammation of the eyelids. Blepharitis often resolves once the infected person practices better hygiene by removing makeup before sleep and washing the eyes out with a gentle cleanser, one to two times a day. If you’re struggling with treating this condition, then I recommend reading my guide on how to get rid of blepharitis for good.
How Can I Get Rid of the Redness?
If you have pink eye, whether bacterial or viral, getting rid of the redness is nearly impossible. However, avoiding touching and rubbing your eyes can help to keep the redness at a minimum. To learn more, click here to read my guide on red eyes.
Can Chronic Eye Conditions Cause Wrinkles Around the Eyes?
Yes. If you’re dealing with frequent eye infections, such as blepharitis, and rub the tender skin around the eyes, this can cause damage to the skin, especially if you’re over the age of forty. As we age, the skin under our eyes will become thinner, which makes it more delicate and prone to wrinkles. To learn some great anti-aging treatment tips, read my guide on how to get rid of wrinkles under your eyes when you smile.
So, can a cold cause eye discharge? Yes, if you have also developed viral pink eye, which can occur if you have an upper respiratory infection, a cold, or the flu. This type of pink eye is also very contagious and will resolve on its own in a matter of days. Proper hygiene, warm compresses, and plenty of rest can help keep you comfortable and promote a faster recovery time. If you’re still dealing with pink eye after a period of five days or the symptoms seem to worsen, contact your doctor for an assessment.