On a Monday morning, about an hour and a half after I dropped my oldest son off at school, I received a call from the school nurse. “Your son is here with a red and itchy eye.” Oh-no. Since our other son had pink eye only a week ago, I had a sneaking suspicion that I knew the problem.
What is pink eye?
A description by medicinenet.com stated, “Pink eye, or conjunctivitis, is redness and inflammation of the membranes (conjunctiva) covering the whites of the eyes and the membranes on the inner part of the eyelids. Viral and bacterial forms of conjunctivitis are common in childhood but can occur in people of any age.”
What causes pink eye?
There are two common types of pink eye, viral and bacterial. The following information is from medicinenet.com: Viral pink eye is caused by a virus infection. The symptoms of viral pink eye are a watery discharge (not green or yellow in color), and red inflamed eyes. Swollen lids, sinus congestion and a runny nose may also be present. Viral pink eye may not require an antibiotic but those affected should still see a doctor to avoid more serious eye problems. Viral pink eye can last up to two weeks.
Unlike viral pink eye, bacterial pink eye is caused by bacteria and requires treatment of antibiotic eye drops or ointment prescribed by a doctor. Eye pain, redness, swelling, and a moderate to large amount of discharge, usually yellow or greenish in color are the most common symptoms of bacterial pink eye. If you are experiencing other symptoms like a runny nose, cough or ear pain, most likely an oral antibiotic will be prescribed in addition to the drops. Many times the same bacteria is the culprit for these symptoms as well.
Pink eye is highly contagious. If your child has been diagnosed with bacterial pink eye, medical professionals recommend that they do not have contact with other children until they have been treated with the antibiotics for 48 hours. Other ways to prevent the spread of pink eye is with frequent hand washing, especially after rubbing or touching eyes, and washing and or disinfecting pillows, toys, towels , remotes, counter tops, doorknobs or any area that has been touched.