Have you ever wondered why your baby has pink eyes? Is pink eye something you should be worried about? Pink eye, also known as conjunctivitis, is an inflammation of the conjunctiva. Pink eye is common in babies and toddlers but can happen to anyone.
It’s the number one reason babies go to their pediatrician. It usually clears up on its own within 7-10 days. But what is pink eye?
What Is Pink Eye?
Pink eye is the medical term for conjunctivitis. It’s a common infection that causes the conjunctiva — the thin, transparent membrane that lines the eyelid and covers the white of your eye — to turn red or pink. Pink eye can be caused by bacteria, viruses, or allergens, though it’s usually viral in children.
You can spread pink eye through direct contact with an infected person’s eyes or nose. You can also apply it by touching something with your hands and then touching your eyes or nose afterward.
The best way to avoid getting pink eye is by preventing others from coming into contact with your eyes or nose. You can also use noncontact lenses when caring for someone with pink eye (provided they’re not contagious).
What Are The Causes Of the Pink Eye?
There are two main types of pink eye. Bacterial pink eye is also called infectious conjunctivitis. This type is caused by bacteria such as staphylococcus, streptococcus, and pseudomonas.
Viral pink eye is also called viral conjunctivitis and comprises about 80% of cases of pink eye in children under age five.
Viral conjunctivitis isn’t contagious like bacterial conjunctivitis is; however, because it’s caused by a virus, it can recur throughout your life if you’re exposed to it again or if you have recurring cold sores on your lips or around your mouth.
Symptoms Of the Pink Eye?
- Itchy, red eyes.
- Swelling of the eyelids.
- It is tearing of the eyes.
- Discharge from your eyes (looks like pus).
- Swelling of the eyelids
- Redness of the conjunctiva (the clear tissue) on the white part of your eye
- Discharge from your eyes — usually watery discharge first, followed by thick mucus-like discharge.
How Can I Stop Infecting Other People?
The best way to prevent infecting other people is to wash your hands regularly.
- If you have pink eye, it is essential to avoid touching your eyes and sharing towels or bedding with others.
- If you have bacterial conjunctivitis, you should also avoid sharing food and drinks with other people as bacteria can spread this way too.
- You should also avoid crowding situations where many people are in close contact with each other (for example, at concerts).
This can spread germs from your hands onto your face and into your eyes. If you use a tissue or washcloth to wipe away tears, wash it first with hot soapy water before using it again.
The best thing for you and others in your home is to wash hands frequently — especially after using the bathroom — and avoid touching your eyes or face with unwashed hands.
Is Pink Eye Contagious?
Yes, pink eye is contagious if a virus causes it. Viral pink eye may be spread from person to person via direct contact with infected secretions (such as when sharing towels or utensils) or indirect contact (through objects such as doorknobs).
The same is true for bacterial and allergic conjunctivitis, though this type of pink eye must be treated with antibiotics and antihistamines.
How to Identify Pink Eye?
1. Look For Redness
Pink eye can be contagious and may not go away on its own. So it’s essential to understand how to identify pink eye and what you need to do to get better.
2. Look For Redness
The most apparent sign is redness in both eyes if you have pink eye. The redness may look like bloodshot eyes, but it won’t be painful or irritate your eyes as allergies would.
3. Check for Discharge
A thick yellow discharge is another indication that you have pink eye. You’ll also notice that your eyelids stick together when you wake up in the morning and that your vision is blurry when you wake up because your eyes are swollen shut from sleep.
4. Look For Eyelid Inflammation
If you have severe cases of pink eye, then the inside of your eyelids may become inflamed, and the white part of your eyes (the conjunctiva). This causes itching and swelling of the lids, especially if they’re closed during sleep (because they stick together).
5. Check Out Their Eyes
If your child has pink eye, their eyes will likely be red and swollen. The whites of their eyes might even be a little yellowish. They might also have some discharge from the nose or eyes that looks like pus or mucus.
6. Watch Out For Other Symptoms
If your child has pink eye, they may also have other symptoms besides just the redness and swelling of the eyes. For example, they could have a fever, runny nose, cough, or sore throat, which are signs of an upper respiratory infection (URI).
Suppose they do have a URI along with the pink eye. In that case, it’s essential to see your pediatrician right away because these infections can spread quickly when your child is sick and spending time around you at home during cold and flu season (especially if they’re sharing cups or sippy cups).
7. Know When to Seek Medical Care Immediately
If you notice any signs of redness around your baby’s mouth or on the inside of their cheeks (not just around the lips), it could be a sign that something more serious is going on — like hand-foot-mouth disease (HFMD).
How Is Pink Eye Treated?
1. Allergic Pink Eye Treatments
Allergic pink eye is treated by reducing inflammation. The first step in treatment is to treat any underlying allergies. Antihistamines may be prescribed for swelling and itching.
If the swelling is severe, your doctor may prescribe steroids to reduce the inflammation. These can be taken as drops or pills, depending on your needs.
If you have a bacterial infection, antibiotics may be prescribed to clear up the infection. Your doctor will likely recommend that you use warm compresses to relieve pain and inflammation and over-the-counter pain medications such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen.
If your allergic reaction is caused by something like pollen or animal dander (pet hair), avoid contact with those things until they go away.
2. Viral Pink Eye Treatments
The best treatment option will depend on your age and whether you have other health conditions or take medications that might make you more susceptible to complications from viral pink eye. The following treatment options are most commonly recommended for viral pink eye:
This can help reduce symptoms and keep your eyes moist so they aren’t too dry or irritated. Resting your eyes may also help prevent scarring if you have blepharitis (inflammation of the eyelids).
If you have dry eyes due to allergies or other causes (such as using contact lenses), using artificial tears can help relieve discomfort and reduce inflammation.
3. Bacterial Pink Eye Treatments
An antibiotic eye drop is typically prescribed to cure bacterial pink eye. These medications will usually clear up the infection within a few days. Some newer treatments don’t require eye drops.
If your doctor suspects that the cause of your bacterial pink eye is an infection from a virus, he may prescribe an antiviral medication (oral or vision drops). Antiviral drugs only treat viral infections and should not be used to treat bacterial pink eye infections.
However, if you have both types of infections at once, it’s possible that one medication could help both conditions.
In some cases, doctors prescribe antibiotics even though they suspect that an infection is caused by a virus because there are no effective antiviral medications available in humans (this is more common in children than adults).
This can lead to antibiotic resistance and other problems down the road, so it’s best to avoid unnecessary antibiotics whenever possible!
Visit University Urgent Care for Pink Eye Treatment
Our staff and doctors at University Urgent Care in Fort Worth will be able to give you more thorough answers regarding your specific case. Knowing the difference between viral and bacterial pink eye is imperative to avoiding contamination and passing along an infection. We accept walk-ins and appointments for quick pink-eye relief.