Monday, June 28, 2010

Oh My! I Think It's Pink Eye!

Out of the corner of your eye you notice your child fiercely rubbing his eyes.  Upon further inspection, you notice the whites of his eyes are no longer white.  They're red!!!  You ask yourself, "Is this Pink Eye?"

What is Pink Eye?
  • Conjunctivits is the medical term for "Pink Eye".  Conjunctivitis refers to an infection or inflammation of the conjunctiva (a membrane that coveres the white part of the eye. It's also found inside the eyelids).  It is typically a minor infection and the symptoms that accompany it are more bothersome than threatening to one's health.  

Bacterial Vs Viral
  • Bacterial Ccnjuncitivits is the most common cause of "Pink Eye".  It can be caused by different types of bacteria but the most common type is the H Influenzae bacteria.  Kids may also present with an ear infection when they have this type of bacterial eye infection.  Bacterial conjunctivitis is extremely itchy and produces green/yellow purulent drainage{almost pus-like).  Don't be alarmed if your child wakes in the morning with their eyelids practically glued shut because of the crusty drainage. 
  • Viral conjunctivitis usually produces a clear drainage.  Often kids will present with an accompanying sore throat, runny nose and cough.
  • Both bacterial and viral pink eye are contagious and spread easily through daycares, schools and playgroups. 
  • Bacterial pink eye is only contagious once the symptoms appear whereas viral conjunctivits can be contagious prior to the onset of any symptoms. 

How long is my child contagious?
It all depends on what causes of the inflammation/infection.  A child is not considered contagious if the inflammation is caused by allergies or irritiation from foreign matter.  For example,  Opal is extremely allergic to horses and he develops conjunctivits immediately after being in contact with them.  Other irritants may include: chlorine, soap and smoke. 
If the child has the bacterial or viral type then they are considered contagious while the eyes are still tearing{typically 3-7 days}.  However, most schools and daycares allow children to return after just 24 hours of being treated with antibiotics drops.

How does it spread? 
Pink eye spreads quite easily.  This is why so many educators and daycare providers fear it.  It is spread by touching the infected person or something the infected person has touched.  It can also be spread through droplets that are transported in the air when the infected person sneezes or coughs. 

How do you treat and prevent it?
Bacterial pink eye is typically treated with antibiotic eye drops or ointment. {Note- if the child is on oral antibiotics the physcian should be made aware of this.  In this case, optical eye drops may not be necessary}
Viral pink eye usually clears on it's own without treatment
Antihistamines are used to treat allergy related pink eye
Warm compresses to the eyes may comfort the child and help to clear the crusted drainage.
I also like to give Opal a funky pair of glasses to wear.  The glasses remind him not to rub his eyes. {Especially important if the pink eye is contained to one eye}

Note-If symptoms do not improve in 3-5 days or if the child complains of severe pain, changes in sight or sensitivy to light then it is important to contact your doctor.

Handwashing is the best way to prevent it from spreading.  Also, avoid sharing pillows and towels with an infected person. 

Has your child ever had pink eye?  I'd love to hear from you about it!  What helped comfort your child while dealing with the symptoms of pink eye?

Medical Disclaimer-The contents and information on this blog are for your informational use only. My blog posts provide general health and parenting information. This information in this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you read on this blog.


Carrie said...

We just had it! And it was SO frustrating to have a family doctor and not be able to get in for days - seriously what's the point of having a doctor if they make you go to the walk in clinic anyway.
I didn't go to the walk in though... my two kids plus the two I babysit made that nearly impossible. I took Goose to the local Shoppers Drug Mart and talked to the pharmacist. A bottle of Polysporin for pink eye and a few days later, we were as good as new! :)

Talia said...

We have it right now. I swear, I am scarred for life after having a really bad case of bacterial pink eye that wasn't going away with the multiple drops they gave me. Finally we found the right drops and it went away but 6 weeks made it awful! I'm glad the Polysporin drops worked for you - I'm too afraid to use them after having such bad cases of it.

I feel terrible I'm such a germ freak now because of it - home with the two kids and trying to prevent a 3.5 year old from giving it to his 6 month old sister is NOT easy! I hope it goes away sooner than later so I can stop doing so much laundry and using Lysol wipes out the wazoo! :)

mintradz said...

If the redness is from a form of pink eye known as conjunctivitis, you will also have other symptoms such as itching, burning or stinging, discharge, swelling, watering — or a combination of the above. Arizona eye care said that, Some forms of pinkeye are contagious, and some are not. Allergic conjunctivitis, for example, is not contagious. But viral and bacterial forms of pink eyes are contagious. So it's best to see your eye doctor or family doctor for diagnosis and possible treatment.