How to keep your kids from getting Pink Eye and how to treat pink eye
Red eyes… gooey discharge… a burning, sand-in-the-eye sensation… and a tendency to spread quickly amongst children – parents everywhere dread the symptoms of conjunctivitis, otherwise known as pink eye. How can you keep your child safe and avoid bringing the condition home? We talked to a resident pediatric expert and MDLIVE’s Chief Medical Affairs Officer, Dr. Deborah Mulligan, for advice.
1) Teach your child careful hand hygiene.
Dr. Mulligan’s number one tip? Teach your child to wash his or her hands.
“Pink eye is caused by an inflammation of the conjunctiva, the clear membrane covering the white part of the eye and the inner surface of the eyelids,” says Dr. Mulligan. Touching your eyes with dirty hands can spread bacteria, viruses, allergens, or chemicals, all of which can cause irritation or infection.
“Good hand hygiene is the best method for preventing the spread of pink eye,” she says. Getting your kids in the habit of washing their hands before and after touching the eyes, nose, and mouth helps prevent the infection from taking hold.
2) Sanitize objects commonly touched by hands or faces.
Regularly cleaning tables, doorknobs, telephones, cots, cuddle blankets, toys, and other objects touched by hands or faces helps eliminate lingering bacteria, viruses, or allergens.
“It’s helpful to think of pink eye like the common cold,” says Dr. Mulligan. “Both can spread through germs, and both can spread through coughing and sneezing. Eliminating the germs before they’re able to spread helps minimize the risk.”
3) Don’t share personal items like towels or washcloths.
Sharing is a valuable skill to teach your child – but they shouldn’t share everything.
“In the summertime,” says Dr. Mulligan, “pink eye can spread when swimming in contaminated water or sharing contaminated towels.”
You can get pink eye by touching an infected person or something an infected person has touched, such as a used tissue, towel, washcloth, or other item that comes into contact with the eyes, nose, or mouth.
4) If your child shows symptoms, see a doctor right away.
As any parent knows, you can’t always control the germs to which your child is exposed. If your child does show symptoms, talk to a doctor as soon as possible. There are several types of pink eye, each with different causes, symptoms, and treatments. Some are extremely contagious, while others aren’t contagious at all.
“If you think you or your child has pink eye,” says Dr. Mulligan, “it’s important to contact a doctor to learn what’s causing it, how to treat it, and whether or not it’s contagious.”
According to Dr. Mulligan, other serious eye conditions can have similar symptoms. If the pinkeye does not improve after 2 to 3 days of treatment, or after a week when left untreated, be sure to call your doctor.
For those of us who don’t want to wait days for an appointment, or who hate dragging their child to an urgent care center or emergency room, WebDocOnline powered by MDLIVE is a convenient, quick way to see a doctor immediately.
“We’ve made it easy to upload images in the App,” says Dr. Mulligan. “That allows doctors to ‘see’ the eye in a telemedicine consultation, so they can make an appropriate diagnosis and determine treatment. It’s an easy way to get your child on the path to feeling better without even having to leave your house.”
It is said that over 70% of the reasons people see their Primary Care Provider can now be diagnosed and prescribed medication if necessary over the phone or through web conferencing / video chat. WebDocOnline’s memberships give you 24/7/365 access to a licenced board certified physician with an average of 15 years in their field. Learn more!
If you or your child might have pink eye, get treatment now. You can have a prescription, if the doctor decides it is necessary, and your kids don’t have to miss school. Treat it now before it spreads! click on become a member at the top of this page.
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