What Parents Need to Know about Pink Eye

Each year, conjunctivitis is the cause for many missed school days. In general, conjunctivitis remains contagious as long as the eye tears produce discharge. Once these symptoms are gone, it’s safe for the child to return to school or child care. Some schools may require a certain wait period before the child can return. Pink eye symptoms usually improve in three to seven days.

Good hygiene – especially hand-washing after touching the face or eyes – is crucial to minimize spread of the disease. If the pink eye is caused by an infection, antibiotic drops or ointment may be required to treat the eyes. These small actions can prevent the spread of conjunctivitis in classrooms and households alike.

To prevent spreading or catching pink eye, follow these EyeSmart tips from the American Academy of Ophthalmology:

• Wash your hands frequently
• Do not touch your eyes
• Do not reuse handkerchiefs or towels when wiping your face and eyes
• Change pillowcases frequently
• Do not use old cosmetics or share makeup
• Maintain proper contact lens care and cleaning

If you or your child has viral or bacterial pink eye, ease the discomfort by applying a warm compress to closed eyelids. Then, wash your hands thoroughly. Symptoms of viral conjunctivitis last up to two weeks and disappear on their own. If symptoms persist, take your child to an ophthalmologist to ensure they get proper treatment. For bacterial conjunctivitis, an ophthalmologist may prescribe antibiotic eye drops.

Information courtesy of the American Academy of Ophthalmology