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Help! My Child Has Pink Eye

Help! My Child Has Pink Eye

When your child wakes up with one or both eyes looking red and feeling itchy, it could be pink eye, a common concern among parents of young children. Pink eye, also known as conjunctivitis, is an inflammation or infection of the membrane that covers the white part of the eyeball. 

The compassionate and knowledgeable team at Rapid City Healthcare in Irving, Texas, understands pink eye can alarm parents, but understanding its causes, treatments, and prevention can help you manage it effectively.

What is pink eye?

Pink eye develops when the mucous membrane covering the front of the eye (conjunctiva) becomes irritated or infected. The blood vessels dilate and give the eye a pink or reddish appearance. 

Pink eye symptoms may include redness, itching, or feeling like you have sand in the eye. Sometimes pink eye causes a discharge that forms a crust during the night that might prevent the eye from opening in the morning. You can use a warm, damp cloth to remove the discharge to open your eye. 

Pink eye can affect one or both eyes.

Does pink eye resolve on its own?

Treatment for pink eye depends on its cause. There are three main types of conjunctivitis:

Viral conjunctivitis 

Viral pink eye is the most common form, caused by the same viruses responsible for the common cold. Viral conjunctivitis is highly contagious but typically clears up on its own within several days and without medical treatment. Symptomatic relief can be found through cold compresses and artificial tears.

Bacterial conjunctivitis

Pink eye caused by bacteria can cause serious damage if left untreated. It often results in a heavy, yellow-green discharge, and sometimes an infection of the cornea. Bacterial conjunctivitis requires medical treatment and is treated with prescription antibiotic eye drops or ointments.

Allergic conjunctivitis

Triggered by allergens like pollen, dust, or pet dander, allergic conjunctivitis is not contagious. It often includes symptoms like intense itching, tearing, and redness in both eyes, and is treated with allergy medications and eye drops.

Tips for preventing pink eye

Preventing pink eye largely involves good hygiene and awareness of the environment:

Practice good hygiene

Teach your child to wash their hands regularly with soap and water, especially before and after touching their eyes, after using the bathroom, and after playing.

Avoid sharing personal items

Towels, pillows, and eye makeup should not be shared. This is crucial in preventing the spread of infectious agents.

Protect against chemicals and irritants

If your child is swimming, goggles can help protect their eyes from irritation caused by chlorinated water. Also, keep the home free of dust and pet dander if your child is allergic.

Stay home if sick

Keeping your child home when they are showing symptoms of pink eye can prevent the spread to other children, especially in school or daycare environments.

Pink eye can be a distressing experience for both the child and the parent, but with the right information and care, it can typically be managed easily. If your child’s symptoms persist or worsen, consult with the compassionate team at Rapid City Healthcare for treatment. Visit us for walk-in service, call, or schedule an appointment online.

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