Best Ways to Help Your Child Avoid Pink Eye

Has your child ever come home from preschool (or day camp, a sleepover or anywhere he/she has been in close contact with other children) with red, puffy, weepy eyes? The culprit could very well be pink eye, or conjunctivitis. Since pink eye mainly occurs in children, we see a lot of cases in our pediatric practice, Westchester Health Pediatrics. In fact, one of our WHP pediatricians, Glenn Kaplan, MD, FAAP, has written a great blog about what parents can do to help their children avoid contracting this condition that, though relatively minor, can still be a major annoyance.

Other than children, who typically gets pink eye? College students, teachers, daycare workers, kids in summer camp and those in the military are particularly susceptible, due to their close proximity with each other.

Pink eye defined

Pink eye occurs when the thin, clear covering of the white of the eye and the inside of the eyelids (conjunctiva) become inflamed. Anything that triggers inflammation will cause these conjunctival blood vessels to dilate. Eye doctors use the term “pink eye” usually when they’re referring only to viral conjunctivitis, a highly contagious infection caused by a variety of viruses.

How to tell if your child has it

Glenn Kaplan 4R WEB72

Glenn Kaplan, MD, FAAP

The usual symptoms of pink eye are as follows:

  • The skin around the eye or eyelid is red
  • Blurry or loss of vision that does not clear when he/she blinks
  • Pain in the eye, not just irritation
  • Light is very painful
  • It feels like there’s a foreign object in the eye
  • The eye is red and there is a yellow, green, or bloody discharge that does not go away in 24 hours. (If this occurs, your child may need antibiotics.)
  • The pink eye lasts longer than 7 days.

10 things to do to keep from getting pink eye

Here are 10 simple precautions you and your child can take to significantly reduce his/her (and your) risk of getting pink eye:

  1. Never share personal items such as washcloths, hand towels or tissues.
  2. Cover your nose and mouth when coughing or sneezing.
  3. Avoid rubbing or touching your eyes.
  4. Wash any discharge from your child’s eyes several times a day using a fresh cotton ball or paper towel. Afterwards, discard the cotton ball or paper towel and wash your hands with soap and warm water.
  5. Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially when at school, at camp or in other public places and before eating.
  6. Keep a hand disinfectant (e.g., Purell) handy and use it frequently.
  7. Frequently clean surfaces such as counter tops, faucet handles, door handles and shared phones with an antiseptic cleaner.
  8. If your child suffers from seasonal allergies, ask your pediatrician what can be done to minimize his/her symptoms before they begin.
  9. When your child goes swimming, make sure he/she wears swim goggles to protect his/her eyes from bacteria and other microorganisms in the water that can cause conjunctivitis.
  10. Wash your hands after applying eye drops or ointment to your eye or your child’s eye.

Keep your child home until he/she is not contagious

Because pink eye is very contagious, I always ask the parents of my patients who have pink eye to keep their child home from school or day care until he/she is no longer contagious (usually 1-2 days) and to refrain from direct contact with others (adults and children) to keep the infection from spreading. It’s usually safe to return to school when symptoms have gone away, but it’s important to continue practicing good hygiene all the time to avoid getting pink eye again.

If you think your child has pink eye or any other vision problem, come see us

If your child is experiencing eye pain or vision problems, please call (914) 232-1919 to make an appointment with one of our Westchester Health pediatricians. Over the years we’ve seen hundreds of cases of pink eye and know how to help patients, and their parents, get past it. Whenever, wherever you need us, we’re here for you.

To read Dr. Kaplan’s blog in full, click here.

by Blog