Despite the dramatic effect of pink eye on the appearance of your child’s affected eye, there’s no need to panic if you notice signs of this ailment. While the condition can cause unsightly swelling and inflammation of an affected eye, it ranks among the most common and curable eye conditions in the world. Pink eye affects about 6 million people annually in the U.S.
Pink eye, or conjunctivitis, is a condition caused by an infection of the conjunctiva, the thin, transparent layer of tissue that lines the white part of your eyeball and the inner surface of your eyelids. The blood vessels become inflamed and appear reddish or pink when a virus or bacteria infects the small blood vessels of the conjunctiva.
The appropriate treatment for your child’s pink eye depends on diagnosing the type of pink eye they have. The staff at Prime Choice Family Clinic & Urgent Care specializes in evaluating and treating acute conditions, such as pink eye. You can access these services on a walk-in basis, by appointment, or via convenient telemedicine services to get your child the treatment they need.
Viral pink eye
The most common kind of pink eye is viral pink eye. It’s usually caused by adenoviruses, the same group of viruses that cause the common cold.
If your child has viral pink eye, they may experience cold-like symptoms. This disease often accompanies upper respiratory ailments.
Common symptoms of viral pink eye include:
- Red eyes with watery discharge
- Pain in your eyes
- Eyes that burn and/or itch
- A sensation of having sand under your eyelids
- Sensitivity to light
- Runny nose
- Sinus congestion
- Sore throat
Viral pink eye can be spread by sneezing and coughing. It can remain contagious for up to 12 days after your symptoms begin. The disease can quickly spread through schools, offices, and other places where people sit close to each other.
You don’t need special treatment for viral pink eye. Like the common cold, it has to run its course and work itself out of your body on its own. Placing a cool, wet washcloth on your eyes can often provide relief.
Bacterial pink eye
Bacterial pink eye is typically caused by staphylococci and streptococci. This type of pink eye usually strikes more often from December through April.
The eye pain, swelling, and itching that occur in viral pink eye also happen with bacterial pink eye, though the symptoms may be more severe with the bacterial variety.
Common symptoms unique to bacterial pink eye include:
- Enlargement of the lymph nodes located in front of the ears
- Discharge of sticky, green or yellow pus that drains from the corner of the infected eye
- Eyelids that become stuck together in the morning after pus has dried on the eyelids overnight
If your child has bacterial pink eye, they probably caught it when they had direct contact with an infected person’s bodily fluids or with items that touched an infected eye. The typical route of infection is hand-to-eye contact.
Treatment for bacterial pink eye may require the use of antibiotic eye drops or ointments to fight the infection. Your child may also need an oral antibiotic if the same infection spreads to their throat, ears, or chest.
Allergic pink eye
If your child has allergies, they may develop allergic pink eye. This type of pink eye usually occurs after your child has had contact with an allergen. Children with seasonal allergies may be more susceptible to this type of pink eye when allergens are in the air.
Symptoms common to allergic pink eye include:
- Redness in the white of the eye or inner eyelid
- More tears than usual
- Itchy eyes and nose
- Blurred vision
- Eyelid swelling
While viral and bacterial pink eye can strike in one or both eyes, allergic pink eye typically affects both eyes at the same time.
Treatment for allergic pink eye usually involves avoiding interaction with the allergen. For seasonal allergies, this may require frequent handwashing and wearing protective clothing when outside.
Depending on the severity of your child’s symptoms, treatment for allergic pink eye can involve one of the following types of topical eye medications:
- Ocular decongestants
- Ocular antihistamines
- Ocular lubricants
- Ocular steroids
- Ocular mast cell stabilizers
Systemic allergy medications or immunotherapy may also be recommended to treat the underlying allergy.
You shouldn’t try to determine the source of your child’s eye irritation on your own. While symptoms can mimic pink eye, your child may experience eye redness from irritants, such as air pollution, detergents, or chlorine. Getting a medical evaluation is the best way to diagnose the type of pink eye your child has and determine the most effective treatment.
If your child has red, itchy eyes or other symptoms of pink eye, call Prime Choice Family Clinic & Urgent Care at 469-920-8374 or book an appointment online today.