Is your child experiencing severely red, itchy, watery eyes? Allergies can cause mild versions of these symptoms but if the irritation is excessive, your child could have pink eye. If you suspect your child has pink eye, there are a few steps you can follow to help them get better. Read on to learn about pink eye symptoms and how to alleviate the discomfort.
Pink eye, otherwise known as conjunctivitis, is caused by the inflammation or irritation of the conjunctiva, which covers the white part of the eye. Pink eye symptoms in children include redness, irritation (burning or itching), discharge that becomes crusty, and excessively watery eyes.
Pink eye is quite common in children and it’s very contagious. The three most common types of pink eye are viral, bacterial, and allergic, but they can all be prevented and treated in similar ways.
Once a child has contracted pink eye in one eye, it usually only takes a few days before it spreads to the other eye. With a few simple daily practices, treating pink eye at home can relieve irritation and help along the healing process.
Get a washcloth wet with either cold or warm water (whichever feels better for your child) and cover the infected eye(s). If both your child’s eyes are infected, then you should use a different cloth for each eye.
Let the cloth rest on your child’s eyes for 5 to 20 minutes. This will help break up crusty buildup and relieve irritation. Immediately launder any washcloths used once finished.
It is important to wash out the infected eye(s) each day. Using a washcloth, start at the inside of the eye, next to the nose, and wipe towards the outside corner of the eye. Make sure you use a clean surface each time you wipe.
Once you finish, don’t allow anyone to touch an item that was used to clean the eye(s). Immediately toss your washcloths in the laundry, and wash your hands thoroughly.
Although your children’s eyes will feel uncomfortable, don’t let them touch or rub their eyes. This will only make them more irritated and can worsen swelling. If your child does touch their eyes, they should wash their hands immediately to avoid spreading infection.
Applying artificial tear drops can help soothe and moisten the eyes, which will make it easier for your child to avoid touching and rubbing.
If your child normally wears contact lenses, it is extremely important that they do not use them while symptoms of pink eye persist. Contact lenses should be sanitized or replaced, and your child should wear glasses for the duration of the infection.
If left untreated, pink eye will naturally run its course in two to three weeks and gradually clear up. However, with school and work to attend, letting pink eye clear up on its own isn’t always an option. An experienced eye doctor can help alleviate your child’s pink eye more quickly and help you prevent it from spreading.
If the symptoms are severe enough, scheduling a same-day appointment for immediate attention is a good idea. Symptoms such as sensitivity to light or blurred vision, moderate to severe pain in the eye(s), fever, or a weakened immune system are all signs that you should call your doctor immediately.
Newborns are especially susceptible to pink eye from exposure during birth, even if the mother shows no symptoms. Due to their sensitive state, newborns can develop serious strains of pink eye if not treated properly. For such reasons, if you newborn shows signs of pink eye, it is extremely important to bring them to your eye doctor right away to be examined and treated.
As opposed to your MD, an optometrist will be able to better identify the type of pink eye your child has and provide the most appropriate treatment for their infection, which is why visiting an eye doctor is recommended. If your child’s pink eye does require medical treatment, it will most likely involve antibiotic eye drops, ointment, antiviral medication, or even a steroid.
Preventing pink eye is mostly straightforward and mainly involves encouraging your children to implement better hygiene habits on a daily basis. Here are some basics:
Pink eye symptoms in children, although extremely irritating, are relatively easy to treat and prevent with a few simple steps. However, if you are ever unsure or concerned about your child’s eye health due to pink eye, it is best to contact your eye doctor and set up an appointment to have them checked out. Always better safe than sorry!
EPF Eye Care—formerly Evans, Piggott, & Finney—is a private optometry practice with locations in Lafayette, West Lafayette, and Attica, Indiana. With ten eye doctors and five locations, EPF offers convenient and specialty eye care for the entire family.
Call EPF Eye Care to schedule an appointment, and follow the practice on Facebook.