Your Child’s Eyes: A Pink Eye Prevention Primer

Pink Eye Prevention

Pink eye is one of those conditions that seems almost inevitable in the lives of your children. At some point, somewhere, someone will have a case of pink eye and touch a book, which will be passed onto your child, and so on. But this scenario doesn’t have to play out in the life of your child. Many parents are unaware that preventing pink eye is a crucial step towards ensuring their child’s health, or that prevention is even possible. Fortunately, there are simple and straightforward ways you can protect your child’s eyes and help prevent pink eye. 

Childs Eyes Your Childs Eyes: A Pink Eye Prevention PrimerThe Work Done For You 

To be fair to schools, most cases of pink eye will be nipped in the bud quite early on. At the first suspicion of pink eye, children will be removed from the other kids, taken to the nurse’s quarters, and their parents will be contacted. Because of this, most cases of pink eye never spread beyond a small group of children. Unfortunately, schools can’t prevent every single case of pink eye, and your child likely visits more places than just school, as well. Since those places may or may not have safety precautions in place, it’s good to know what’s in your control as far as prevention goes.

Not All Pink is Problematic 

The eyes are quite sensitive, and they will often turn pink at the slightest provocation. If you’ve ever been very exhausted at the end of a long day and rubbed your eye, the rim or corner of your eye likely turned a bit pink. The same thing happens if you get dust in your eye, or if you rub your eyes for another reason. Does this mean you have pink eye? No, not necessarily. But whatcan happen in these instances is that the eye, already irritated, can be prime breeding ground for bacteria that enters it from rubbing them with dirty hands. This is usually where children get into trouble. Allergies are not contagious, but pink eye certainly can be, and the contagious strands spread quickly.

Cleanliness is the Key 

Pink eye is a bacteria medically referred to as conjunctivitis. Technically, you can get bacterial conjunctivitis, which comes with thicker discharge from the eye, or you can get viral conjunctivitis, which presents as thin, watery discharge. Both can be contagious, but both can be prevented by keeping clean hands and eyes.

Adults know better than to touch a door knob, library book, or elevator call button and fail to wash their hands before touching their eyes. But children are not so keen on this issue, and cleanliness is usually not at the top of their priority list. Because of this, it’s important to discuss with your child why it’s so crucial to wash his or her hands after touching things that other people touch, and before eating, as well.

Irritated eyes can quickly become infected eyes, as they are more susceptible to bacteria and viruses. However, even perfectly healthy eyes that just came off an uninterrupted eight hours of sleep can be susceptible to these bugs, as well.

Practise good habits at home, including washing your hands before eating, cooking, and so on, as children will absorb what they routinely do, as well as what they see their parents doing. Set a good example where hygiene is concerned, and you can help protect your children from contracting a variety of ailments.

Treatment 

While cleanliness and proper hygiene can help your child avoid contracting pink eye, things happen, and not everything is 100 percent preventable. Because of this, you should know what to expect as far as treatment goes if your child does come down with a variation of pink-eye.

Viral conjunctivitis usually doesn’t require any treatment, and will resolve itself within two to four weeks. Some viral forms of pink eye can be quite serious, such as the type caused by herpes simplex virus, but this is rather rare and your doctor will let you know whether or not that particular strain is of concern to your child. Most of the time, however, it will be a simple waiting game, and the illness will clear on its own. If you feel at any time that your child should be receiving treatment but is not, it is absolutely appropriate to seek a second opinion. Doctors are medical professionals, but as the solicitors at Irwin Mitchell know all too well, even the best doctors can be medically negligent in certain situations. Go with your gut instinct, and seek out more than one opinion if you feel your child needs it.

Bacterial conjunctivitis, on the other hand, is almost always treated with some form of antibiotic therapy. Most of the time, within 24 hours after starting antibiotics your child can return to school without being a threat to other children. In the case of viral conjunctivitis, though, it’s likely that your child will have to wait until all symptoms are cleared before returning to school.

Prevention is the best method of defence against pink eye and other illnesses and viruses your child may be exposed to on a regular basis, but there are usually simple and effective treatments available should he or she contract pink eye. If diagnosed, make sure your child practises good hygiene at home so as not to pass it along to other members of the family.

Millie Whitehead is a pediatric nurse. She often blogs about common childhood illnesses and how to deal with them.

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