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Close up on little girl's eyes having conjunctivitis

What to Do if Your Child Has Pink Eye

By Dr. Usama Samaan, Courthouse Pediatrics

During winter, parents everywhere are keeping an eye out for pink eye.

Pink eye, also called conjunctivitis, often occurs among school-age children from December to April. The contagious forms can spread quickly through a classroom.

In order to understand how to treat pink eye, it’s important to know there are several types. Many of them do not require antibiotics.

Here are four main causes of pink eye:

  • Bacteria – more common among kids than adults, bacterial conjunctivitis often occurs during winter.
  • Viruses – viral conjunctivitis is very contagious and can result in large outbreaks.
  • Allergens – dust mites, animal dander, and pollen can lead to allergic conjunctivitis.
  • Irritants – smoke, dust, fumes, chemicals, and dirty contact lenses can also cause conjunctivitis.

If your child has pink eye, it’s a good idea to give your pediatrician a call. Your child’s symptoms will help determine whether they need to be seen in the office.

Eye pain, light sensitivity, blurry vision, intense redness, and symptoms that don’t get better are all signs your child should see a healthcare provider. It’s especially important for newborns to see a pediatrician if they have pink eye symptoms during the first two weeks after birth. If necessary, your pediatrician can prescribe eye medication to eliminate an infection.

The majority of pink eye cases among school-age children are viral. Viral infections will usually clear up in one to two weeks without treatment. Cold compresses and artificial tears can bring some relief. If your child wears contact lenses, they should stop until all symptoms are gone.

Although viral infections are often mild, they are very contagious when a child has symptoms. To prevent the spread of conjunctivitis, instruct your child to avoid touching or rubbing their eyes. Be sure to wash any discharge from around their eye using a clean cotton ball or a clean, wet washcloth. Wash all bedding and towels in hot water and detergent.

Make sure you and your child practice good hand hygiene. Wash your hands with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds. If you’re using hand sanitizer, choose one that contains at least 60 percent alcohol to clean your hands.

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About CHKD Medical Group

About CHKD Medical  Group Children’s Hospital of The King’s Daughters has been the region’s most trusted name in pediatric care for more than 50 years. As members of CHKD Health System, our pediatricians work closely with CHKD’s full range of pediatric specialists and surgeons. They also share a commitment to quality, excellence and child-centered care. With 18 practices in 29 locations throughout the region, a CHKD pediatrician is never far.

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