Pink eye

Pink eye, also known as conjunctivitis, refers to inflammation of the thin lining that covers the eye. Children with pink eye usually have itchy, watery eyes that can be somewhat red. There can also be eyelid swelling and stringy discharge from the eyes. It can be one-sided or affect both eyes. It can also be associated with sneezing and runny nose.

There are many causes of pink eye including viruses, bacteria, herpes virus, and allergies. By far the most common causes of pink eye are allergies and non-herpes viruses.

Most cases of conjunctivitis can be diagnosed through a medical history and physical exam of the child’s eye. If the cause is viral, it will get better on its own although antibiotic drops can be prescribed to help relieve some irritation and prevent a secondary bacterial infection. If is a bacterial infection, the child may benefit from antibiotic drops. Allergic conjunctivitis can be treated with anti-allergy medications such as antihistamines. Cool compresses can also help relieve some of the irritation symptoms.

Common questions

pink eye

What are the common symptoms of pink eye in children?

Common symptoms of pink eye in children include redness in one or both eyes, itchiness, a gritty feeling in the eyes, discharge that may form a crust overnight, tearing, and sensitivity to light. These symptoms can be accompanied by sneezing and a runny nose, especially in cases related to allergies.

What causes pink eye in children?

Pink eye can be caused by various factors, including viral infections (most commonly adenovirus), bacterial infections, allergic reactions, chemical irritants, or a foreign object in the eye. In newborns, it can also be caused by a blocked tear duct.

How is pink eye treated in children?

Treatment for pink eye depends on the cause. Viral conjunctivitis usually resolves on its own, but cool compresses and artificial tears can help relieve symptoms. Bacterial conjunctivitis may require antibiotic eye drops. Allergic conjunctivitis is often treated with allergy medications like antihistamines and cool compresses to relieve irritation.

Is pink eye contagious, and how can I prevent its spread?

Viral and bacterial forms of pink eye are highly contagious. To prevent the spread, teach your child to wash their hands frequently, avoid touching their eyes, use a clean towel and washcloth daily, and not to share personal items like towels or eye cosmetics. If your child wears contact lenses, ensure they are cleaned properly.

When should I take my child to see a doctor for pink eye?

You should see a doctor if your child experiences eye pain, a feeling that something is stuck in their eye, blurred vision, light sensitivity, or if the symptoms do not improve with home care. Additionally, if your child wears contact lenses and develops pink eye symptoms, it's important to see an eye doctor to rule out more serious infections related to lens use.

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