The Run Down: Pink Eye
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/ Categories: WELLNESS, 2023

The Run Down: Pink Eye

Your child wakes up in the morning with a thick crust on both eyes. It is very likely they have conjunctivitis, also known as pink eye. It is a common condition caused by inflammation of the conjunctiva, the thin layer of tissue that lines the inside of the eyelid and the white part of the eyeball. Here’s what you need to know:

Pink eye can affect children and adults, but it is more common in children. It is also more common in the winter months. The swelling makes the eye’s blood vessels more visible, which makes the eye pink.

Pink eye can be caused by a virus, bacteria, allergen, or irritant. Bacterial and viral varieties are very contagious. It can affect one eye or both.  Pink eye causes itching and tearing. It can come with a gritty feeling in the eye.

To prevent pink eye, follow recommended handwashing procedure and avoid touching or rubbing eyes with unwashed hands.

Most cases of pink eye are mild and get better on their own without medical treatment.

  • You can use a warm compress to loosen the crusted discharge and a cold compress to relieve itching.
  • Discontinue wearing contacts until symptoms have improved. Contact your eye doctor for further guidance.
  • If your child is under 2 years old and shows signs of pink eye, consult your pediatrician.
  • If the symptoms don’t improve within 12 – 24 hours, please call your child’s pediatrician, as the child may need to be treated.  There are conditions associated with pink eye, like ear infections and others, that may need prompt attention.

Most importantly, don’t spread it.

  • Wash hands well and frequently.
  • Don’t share personal items, including pillows, washcloths, towels, eye drops, makeup, or eyeglasses, until after symptoms have resolved.
  • Replace eye makeup.
  • Don’t use swimming pools when suffering from pink eye, because it is possible to spread viral and bacterial pink eye to others using the pool, even if the water is chlorinated.

Following these recommendations will ensure that your one child with pink eye doesn’t become a whole family with pink eye.

Lynn Mann, DO, is a pediatrician at SVMC Northshire Campus in Manchester. The practice is a part of Southwestern Vermont Medical Center and Southwestern Vermont Health Care in Bennington.

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