As kids head back to school and communal settings, they face an increased risk of catching a contagious illness. Pink eye, in particular, spreads rapidly through classrooms and playgrounds. Learn what to do if infectious pink eye makes an appearance in your household.
Pink eye (AKA conjunctivitis) is an inflammation of the conjunctiva, the clear membrane that lines the eyelid and the white part of the eyeball. This inflammation makes the blood vessels in your eye more noticeable, and gives the eye the telltale reddish pink appearance. According to the National Eye Institute, about 3 million cases of pink eye occur in the United States each year!
Symptoms of conjunctivitis may affect one or both eyes, and include:
- Reddish or pink appearance of the eye
- Eye discomfort, itchiness or grittiness (a feeling of sand in the eye)
- Discharge from the eye
- Swelling and/or crusting of the eyelid
- Sensitivity to light
If your child is suffering from any of these symptoms, it’s a good idea to head to the doctor.
Diagnosis and Treatment
Pink eye can be caused by the same viruses responsible for common colds, sinus infections, and sore throats, and also by the bacteria behind chlamydia and gonorrhea. Allergies or environmental irritants can also cause conjunctivitis, and in these instances, the condition is not contagious.
Treatment for conjunctivitis depends on the root cause. Get a fast diagnosis and proper care at our clinic today. Our medical team will perform an eye exam, review symptoms and go over recent health history to help determine an underlying cause. If the infection is due to a bacteria, your child may need antibiotic eye drops or ointment. If allergies are the culprit, the provider might prescribe an anti-allergy medication. Viral conjunctivitis will usually clear up on its own in a few days, but cool or warm compresses and acetaminophen or ibuprofen can help relieve discomfort.
Kids with contagious conjunctivitis should be kept out of school and childcare until the contagious stage has passed (usually 3-5 day) . Be sure to wash your hands well after touching a child’s infected eye and avoid sharing items such as eye drops, tissues, washcloths, towels, and pillowcases. It’s also important to clean and sanitize common toys, table tops, drinking fountains, faucet handles, and other surfaces.