So your little one got pink eye – bummer. But lucky for you it can be easily solved! Maybe it’s the first time or maybe this has happened many times – either way we’re here to help. Pink eye can be common among toddlers, preschoolers, and school-aged kids as they can find it so difficult to not rub at or touch their eyes. Pink eye is also known as conjunctivitis and can be caused by different things so let’s get down to business and get rid of your pink eye problem.
This advice is not intended to act as a substitute for medical advice. As with any other ailment your child may have, if you are concerned, please see a doctor.
1. See a doctor.
Only a medical professional is able to diagnose what is actually happening with your child’s eye. Yes pink eye is pretty recognizable with the eye getting pink and/or having a discharge that is yellowish and/or swelling of the eyelids, but there are three different types of pink eye. The first kind is viral pink eye. This one is the most contagious and most common. The second one is bacterial pink eye, which is also contagious. And the third is allergen related, and thus not contagious. All three kinds require different treatments.
2. Keep the eye clean.
Take a lukewarm cloth at the affected eye (or eyes) three times a day and wipe away any gunk that may have built up. Try not to rub the eye directly, but use a wiping motion from the inside of the eye to the outside, using a different part of the cloth each time. If the eye is very crusty you may have to leave the cloth on it for a few seconds before the discharge wipes away.
Be sure to use a different clean cloth every time you clean and be sure to wash the cloth in hot water afterwards and your hands.
3. Pink eye treatments.
To know what treatment to use you first have to know what kind of pink eye you are dealing with. Viral pink eye can, and will, go away on its own but can still be uncomfortable for little eyes. There are prescribed drops for this as well as over the counter drops.
Bacterial pink eye is treated with antibiotics. These drops are creamier and not as easy to administer because they are not as gooey. Try giving them to your child lying down. They may need you to help keep their eye open gently with your fingers as it is a reflex to close your eye when something is poking at it. Allergen related pink eye may be prescribed drops or even pills such as antihistamines to reduce redness and swelling in the eye(s).
4. Stay home.
As mentioned, both viral and bacterial pink eye can be contagious and for that reason your doctor may recommend that your child stay home from school, or any organized activity where they may come into contact with other children, until the pink eye has subsided.
As with any other illness, please be courteous to other parents and their children. If you know your child is infected, keep them home. It can also easy for a child to spread the pink eye from one of their eyes to another, so try to make sure they don’t spread it to their whole daycare as well.
5. Prevent the spread.
As we all know pink eye can be very contagious and can spread quickly, especially among small children who touch their eyes frequently. Good hand washing is key in not spreading pink eye.
Have your child wash their hands frequently with warm soapy water and be sure to wash your own hands after coming in contact with your infected child.
Pink eye can also be spread by touch. Things that have come in close contact to the child’s eyes such as towels, cloths or pillowcases need to be washed in hot water to kill the virus or bacteria. Teach good hygiene now and hopefully it will stick with your children forever.
Prevention for allergen related pink eye can also mean knowing what triggers it. Is it dust? Hay weed? Grass? When possible try and minimize your child’s contact with those irritants.
6. Get an eye patch.
If your child can’t seem to keep their hands off their eyes, try giving them an eye patch. This technique obviously doesn’t work if both eyes are infected. But an eye patch can be a great start to having a fun day of playing pirate because you’ll be at home with them anyway, so why not have a little fun! Make sure you wash things that come into contact with the eye, including the eye patch.
7. Try breast milk.
This will only apply to breastfeeding mothers. If your baby is still breastfeeding and has pink eye, try squirting some breast milk into the affected eye. Or remove some breast milk and put it into a dropper to put into your little one’s eye to aid with healing. Breast milk has surprising healing qualities and can be used on cuts and scrapes as well to help speed up the healing process.
Is the eye going to itch? Likely, especially if it’s allergen related. Is it going to be the most comfortable thing your child has ever experienced? Certainly not. Are you going to get through it? Yes you are! If need be, giving your child a low dose of Tylenol or ibuprofen may be recommended by your doctor to keep them comfortable while treating the pink eye. Helping your child through a bout of pink eye isn’t one of the most fun things you’ll do as a parent, but when it’s all said and done it’s worth it to have those little eyes look at you and melt your heart.