Pink eye, or conjunctivitis, is a common eye condition that a large percentage of the population has encountered at some point in their lives. Whether you had it as a child, or you’re currently worried about your own child’s eye health, pink eye is an infection that seems to be a part of childhood. Even though anyone of any age can contract conjunctivitis, it’s more commonly found in toddlers and they’re at a higher risk of catching it from other little ones.
What does pink eye look like?
You’ll recognize pink eye when you see it. If one or both of your child’s eyes are red/pink and inflamed, they’re irritated and itchy, watery, and there is a sticky, mucus-like substance leaking from the eyes or clinging to their eyelashes then it’s probable that your toddler has Pink Eye. It’s unpleasant, to say the least, but thankfully, it’s easily treated.
What causes it?
Knowing what causes pink eye can help you to help your toddler avoid contracting this condition in the first place. There are different types of pink eye, some of which are contagious. Viral pink eye is the most contagious version, as it’s spread the same way you might catch a cold or the flu. Bacterial pink eye is also contagious, as it spreads via contaminated objects such as washcloths, or touching the eye after handling something contaminated. Allergy-based pink eye is not contagious and usually occurs seasonally as a reaction to dander, grass, or pollen. And finally, irritant-based pink eye is caused by an irritation of the eye – this is not contagious.
To determine which type of pink eye your child has, it’s always best to speak with your family doctor for clarification.
How to treat viral pink eye
Viral pink eye can be treated at home with some simple remedies: keep the eyes clean with a warm (clean) cloth, and cold or warm compresses to keep the swelling down. You should keep your child at home, away from daycare and others while the infection weakens.
How to treat bacterial pink eye
The bacterial pink eye requires help and advice from your family doctor. They’ll likely prescribe antibiotics to clear up the infection quickly. Speak with your doctor about when your child can return to a school setting.
How to treat allergy-based pink eye
Your doctor may prescribe an antihistamine for your child to help reduce the symptoms of this type of pink eye.
How to treat irritant pink eye
Your child’s eyes may need flushing clean, to rid them of the irritant. Speak with your doctor.
How can I prevent it from happening?
Your toddler loves exploring the world around them and touching things, so keeping pink eye at bay isn’t as easy as it sounds. However, by encouraging good handwashing practices, changing their bed linen and towels regularly, and keeping them away from other people who have the condition, you may be able to reduce the likelihood of them developing pink eye.