Pinkeye, or conjunctivitis, is a common problem during childhood, and is easily spread between children during the school months. While not generally a dangerous condition, it can be painful and annoying and often results in missed days at school and work. The most common symptoms of this eye disorder included red, itchy, or burning eyes, and frequently there is discharge from the eyes and crusting on the eyelashes.
Most childhood cases of pinkeye are caused by bacterial or viral infections, and are very contagious and can be spread easily to other children or members of the household. A chronic form of pinkeye can be caused by allergies, and although this form of the condition is not contagious, it tends to recur frequently.
Treatment of pinkeye generally consists of prescription eye drops, warm compresses, and isolation from other children. If your child develops pinkeye, he or she should remain at home until the infection completely clears up in order to avoid infecting other students and teachers. If symptoms do not clear up following treatment, or if vision is impaired or eye pain increases instead of resolves during treatment – seek medical attention. A staph or strep infection of the eye can cause symptoms similar to conjunctivitis, and both require immediate treatment to prevent permanent eye damage.
Some tips for preventing the spread of pinkeye are listed below:
1. Do not share eye drops or eye makeup with anyone else, including other members of your household, and replace eye makeup after an eye infection of any kind or every six months.
2. Do not share washcloths or towels with anyone that has any symptoms of an eye infection, including redness, swelling, or tearing.
3. Be certain to thoroughly wash your hands before touching your contact lenses, and always soak them only in sterile, fresh contact lens solution. Do not ever reuse the same solution.
4. If you have been diagnosed with conjunctivitis, or have symptoms of this infection, be very careful not to pass it on to others or to your other eye. Keep your hands clear of your infected eye, and wash your hands as often as possible. Very young children may need to have their eye covered to ensure they do not spread the infection to others.
5. If your pinkeye is caused by allergies, attempt to avoid the things that trigger them, such as mold, pollen, animal dander, smoke, or dust.
6. During allergy season, filter the air in your home by running your air conditioner and keeping your doors and windows closed at all times.