Follicular conjunctivitis is an eye infection. People also call it pinkeye. It is usually mild and self-limiting, meaning it tends to go away on its own.
Bacteria or viruses can cause follicular conjunctivitis. Conjunctivitis involves inflammation of the conjunctiva, or the mucus membrane that lines the eye and inside of the eyelid.
The names papillary and follicular conjunctivitis specifically refer to how the inflammation manifests. In follicular conjunctivitis, the inflammation leads to small, dome-shaped nodules called follicles.
This article will explain what follicular conjunctivitis is, its symptoms, and its causes. It will also look at when it might be a good idea to speak with a doctor and how they may treat it.
Follicular conjunctivitis is a mild eye infection. It causes inflammation, or swelling, in the conjunctiva. When bacteria cause the infection, doctors call it bacterial follicular conjunctivitis. When a virus causes the condition, doctors call it viral follicular conjunctivitis.
In cases of toxic follicular conjunctivitis, topical medications — applied directly to the eye — are usually the cause.
It can affect one or both eyes and be uncomfortable, but it is not usually serious. The infection will usually go away on its own
It is best to talk with a doctor if there are any accompanying symptoms, such as fever.
Is follicular conjunctivitis contagious?
When the cause is a virus or bacteria,
People can take certain measures to avoid transmitting the infection, such as washing their hands frequently, especially after touching the infected eye, or using separate towels and washcloths.
The symptoms of follicular conjunctivitis will usually come on
- feeling like something is in the eye
- red eye or eyes
- itchy eye or eyes
- eyes that are sensitive to light
- watering discharge from the eye
- a burning sensation in the eye
People with bacterial follicular conjunctivitis may also experience a mucus-like discharge and wake up with their eyelids stuck together.
How long does follicular conjunctivitis last?
Contact with viruses and bacteria can cause follicular conjunctivitis.
- herpesviruses, which include:
- rubella virus
- rubeola, or the measles virus
- Mollascum contagiosum virus
- Haemophilus influenzae
- Chlamydia trachomatis
- Staphylococcus aureus
- Neisseria meningitides
- Streptococcus pneumoniae
- Moraxella catarrhalis
- Moraxella lacunata
- Neisseria gonorrhea
Toxic follicular conjunctivitis
For cases of toxic follicular conjunctivitis, topical medications are the cause. These can include:
- antiviral agents
Follicular conjunctivitis will usually go away on its own within
Doctors will usually diagnose follicular conjunctivitis by:
- asking the person questions about their medical history
- asking the person questions about their symptoms
- examining the eye
Sometimes, they may recommend microbiological tests to confirm the cause of the infection. When this is the case, the doctor will collect a sample of the eye discharge and send it to a laboratory. However, this is
- using over-the-counter (OTC) artificial tears
- placing a warm, damp washcloth over the closed eyes for a few minutes
- taking OTC pain relief such as ibuprofen (Advil)
If the infection does not go away on its own, doctors may recommend additional treatment. For bacterial follicular conjunctivitis,
For viral conjunctivitis, the treatment focuses on
To help prevent the spread of follicular conjunctivitis, the
- frequently washing hands for at least 20 seconds at a time
- avoiding touching or rubbing the eyes while recovering from the infection
- avoiding wearing contact lenses while recovering from an infection
- avoiding sharing pillows, washcloths, towels, eye drops, makeup, makeup brushes, or eyeglasses
- avoiding swimming pools while recovering from an infection
To avoid reinfection, people can clean or replace certain items. For example, disposing of any eye or face makeup, makeup brushes, contact lenses, or contact lens solution they used while recovering from the infection.
A person should also consider thoroughly cleaning eyeglasses, sunglasses, or contact lens cases when the infection clears up.
Read more about how to prevent conjunctivitis.
Follicular conjunctivitis is an infection in the mucus membrane that covers the eye and the eyelid (conjunctiva). People sometimes call it pink eye. It is usually mild and self-limiting, meaning it tends to go away on its own. Viruses or bacteria can cause it, and it is contagious.
Symptoms include red, itchy eyes, discharge from the eyes, and sensitivity to light. There are things people can do to ease the symptoms at home, such as using a clean, damp washcloth on the affected area. If the problem does not go away within a few weeks, speaking with a doctor is a good idea.