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How to Treat Pink Eye

Infectious Diseases

Eyedrop woes? Here’s how to treat pink eye and how to prevent it.

 It’s that time of year again! kids are snotty, boogery and have runny noses and eyes. With kids heading back to school and in close quarters, viruses spread. One infection that parents hate is pink eye.

Pink eye, or eye infections, or conjunctivitis, is inflammation of the membrane that covers the white part of the eye. It is most often caused by a virus, though bacterial infections, allergies and chemical irritation can do it as well.

Viral pink eye often stems from a viral infection such as a cold, with runny nose, congestion and cough. It often starts out in one eye, causing redness, itching and discharge, and spreads to the other eye when the person rubs the eyes from discomfort.

Pink eye is very contagious and is easily contracted when someone who has the infection touches the eye, then touches you or a surface that you touch.

Even brief contact with the virus or bacteria, and then touching the eyes can lead to conjunctivitis.

How do we treat pink eye?

Viral pink eye is not caused by bacteria, therefore antibiotics do not help treat it. Using a salt water solution such as normal saline drop can help lubricate the eye and rinse off discharge.

Bacterial pink eye requires antibiotic eye drops.

Allergic conjunctivitis responds well to allergy eye drops as prescribed by your doctor. Saline drops can also rinse the allergen off the surface of the eye, providing comfort.

 

What’s the easiest way to give eye drops?

Kids are scared of eye drops, and who could blame them? Imagine you are small and a bigger person pries your sore eyes open against your will and drops a foreign fluid into them. Not so pleasant.

My trick for giving eye drops is much simpler and less scary. Sit on the floor with your child’s head in your lap. Have them close their eyes. Massage their head, face, and shoulders. Make it a relaxing moment. Then drop 1-2 drops into the corner of your child’s closed eyes. When your child blinks, the medicine will slide across the eye and tada. Eye drops dispensed and no stress or fear.

Here’s a brief how-to video.

Pink eye prevention

Viral and bacterial pink eye are very contagious and can spread easily if the infected eye (or hands that have touched the eye) has contact with another person’s eyes. Frequent hand washing and not sharing towels, makeup and pillows can prevent the spread.

Children with viral conjunctivitis should avoid other children unless hand hygiene is strictly controlled. Children with bacterial pink eye may return to school or daycare 24 hours after starting antibiotics. Allergic conjunctivitis is not contagious.

When should you see your doctor?

If your child has persistent symptoms, symptoms lasting for more than one week, eye pain, increased eye swelling, redness or changes in vision, please see your doctor.

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