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Colorful Calamities: What to Do If Your Child Gets Pink Eye

Pink eye, or conjunctivitis, is an inflammatory condition that affects the whites of the eye and the inner surface of the eyelid. The combination of reddening, swelling, itchiness, and crusty lids might earn your child a couple sick days from school. Consider the following tips for successful treatment of this common childhood condition.

Clean Around the Eye

Pink eye can result in a clear or yellow discharge from the corners of the eyes. Your child might awaken with eyelids that are goopy, sticky, crusty, or sealed shut. To clean the eyes and remove wet discharge or crusty residue, moisten a soft cotton ball or piece of gauze in warm water. Gently draw the cotton or gauze across the affected lid, working from the inner to the outer corner of the eye. Steer clear of the unaffected eye to avoid transferring bacteria.

Apply Cold or Warm Compresses

For relief from itchiness, pain, and other symptoms of pink eye, prepare cold or warm compresses for your child. Soak a soft washcloth in cold or warm water, and squeeze out excess moisture. Your child can kick back in a recliner or lie on a couch with his head elevated slightly. Roll the washcloth into a sausage shape, and drape it over your child’s eyes. After use, make sure to wash the washcloth in hot water and soap.

Consult with a Doctor

There are different types of pink eye, including bacterial and non-bacterial. A phone call to your pediatrician or an online doctor visit can help you assess whether or not medical treatment is required. Pink eye caused by a virus or by exposure to allergens or irritants typically requires no medication. If your child’s condition is bacterial, the doctor will likely prescribe antibiotic drops, ointment, or pills. Follow the doctor’s instructions carefully, and complete the entire course of antibiotics even if your child’s condition seems to improve.

Prevent Spreading

In cases of viral or infectious pink eye, take steps to prevent your child’s infection from spreading. Keep your child home from school or daycare for several days, and instruct everyone in the house to be particularly strict with hand washing. Your child should avoid sharing toys and games with others and should use his or her own towel until the condition is resolved. Older children should be encouraged to dispose of eye makeup, and all towels, sheets, and pillowcases should be washed well.

Symptoms of pink eye can be pretty alarming, but experts at WebMD claim the condition is generally harmless if treated promptly and properly. Take measures to relieve your child’s discomfort, and consult with a medical professional if you suspect it is a case that requires medication.

Tim Esterdahl

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