If your kids are heading back to school in a couple of weeks, make sure to read this parents’ guide to pink eye. These viral or bacterial infections spread fast in classrooms.
Conjunctivitis can be caused by a virus, bacteria or by allergies. Bacterial and viral conjunctivitis are easily spread from person to person. Allergic conjunctivitis is not contagious.
Viral conjunctivitis is the most common type of conjunctivitis. This type of pink eye is very contagious and often spreads through schools and other crowded places. It usually causes burning, red eyes with a watery discharge. Viral conjunctivitis is usually caused by the same virus that causes runny nose and sore throat in people with the common cold.
Bacterial conjunctivitis is also very contagious. An infection from bacteria causes this form of pinkeye. With bacterial conjunctivitis, you have sore, red eyes with a lot of sticky pus in the eye. Some bacterial infections, however, may cause little or no discharge. Sometimes the bacteria that cause pink eye are the same that cause strep throat.
Allergic conjunctivitis is a type of pink eye that comes from an allergic reaction to pollen, animals, cigarette smoke, pool chlorine, car fumes or something else in the environment. It is not contagious. Allergic pink eye makes your eyes very itchy, red and watery, and the eyelids may get puffy.
Signs that your child may be getting or has pink eye:
Sometimes you need to see a doctor for pink eye. It depends on what kind of pink eye and how bad it is. Make an appointment with an ophthalmologist right away if:
Pink eye is a common cause of school absences and can spread quickly in schools. Make sure your kids know how to keep from getting pink eye and other infections.
Conjunctivitis usually goes away on its own within 1–2 weeks. If symptoms last longer than that, schedule an appointment with an ophthalmologist. They can make sure there isn't a more serious eye problem.
If one or both eyes are red and uncomfortable, it could be allergic pinkeye, viral pinkeye or bacterial pink eye. Sometimes it's easy to figure out what kind of pink eye your child has and other times only a doctor can tell what's causing the problem.
Viral pinkeye is like a common cold in the eye. There is no treatment for the virus and usually you just have to let it heal on its own. Viral pink eye should go away within a week or two without treatment.
Bacterial pinkeye usually produces more mucus or pus than viral or allergic pink eye. Bacterial pink eye can be treated with antibiotics prescribed by a doctor.
If your child's conjunctivitis is caused by allergies, stopping the source of the allergy is important. Allergic pink eye will continue as long as they're in contact with whatever is causing it.
Allergic pink eye is not contagious. They can still go to school with allergic conjunctivitis and no one else will catch it. To reduce the symptoms of allergic pink eye you can:
Pink eye is highly contagious. Basic hygiene is enough to keep from spreading the infection to other people or your other eye.
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