Valentines SHOULD be pink and red, not your child’s eyes

PinkEyeSharing butterfly kisses with your kiddo? Who doesn’t? It’s a great way to bond, cuddle…and potentially to spread conjunctivitis.  Also known as pink eye, this contagious infection causes irritation or infection of the membrane that covers the white of the eye and inside the eyelid.  It is very common in both children and adults, but with proper precaution and care, you can protect yourself and your child from catching and spreading the infection.

How did my child get pink eye?
There are many different causes of pink eye, including bacteria and viruses.  The infection can be spread from person to person, or it can develop on its own.  Children in daycare centers or school are exposed to more germs and may be more likely to pick up pink eye.

What are the symptoms?
Pink eye can be mistaken for general irritation or redness in the eye, but the following are some signs:

  • Redness in and around the eye
  • Eyes that are puffy and sore
  • Itching, burning, or stinging eyes
  • Watery eyes or yellow, pus-like discharge from the eye
  • Eyelids that are crusty or stuck together following sleep

How do I treat pink eye?
Though it’s a minor infection, it is very important to see a doctor if symptoms are present to prevent damage to the eye and stop the spread.  After it’s confirmed as pink eye, antibiotic ointment or drops will be prescribed to stop the infection.

Can I prevent pink eye?
Pink eye is highly contagious and can be spread through contact with the eye drainage that contains the bacteria or virus.  To prevent the spread of the infection, it is important to thoroughly wash hands and bedding, do not share towels, washcloths, contact lens equipment, eye makeup or eye medicine. Women should stop using any eye cosmetic products or tools (eyeliner, mascara, lash curlers, etc.) that may have been in contact with the infection.  If anyone else in the household shows symptoms, contact the doctor to begin treatment right away.

If you suspect pink eye in your child, talk to your family practice provider or pediatrician right away.  After antibiotics are started, drainage and irritation typically begin to subside in about 24-48 hours, though antibiotics should be continued for the duration stated by the provider.

Katherine Lemon, MD

About Katherine Lemon, MD

Education
University of Wisconsin-Madison

Residency
UW Hospital and Clinics

Board Certification
American Board of Pediatrics
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