Every year as summer ends and school begins, kids go back to school to greet their friends and tell stories of their summer vacations. Along with this passing of information, it’s important to remember that kids often pass along germs as well, and right now is a highly susceptible time for kids to be reintroduced to germs and become sick. One sickness that can be much more contagious than others is pink eye.

Let’s take a look at what pink eye is, why it happens, and how to treat and prevent it.

 

What is Pink Eye?

Pink eye, also known as conjunctivitis, is an inflammation of the conjunctiva, which is the thin, clear covering of the white of the eye. It can be caused by bacteria, a virus, or allergies.

  • Viral conjunctivitis is very contagious but usually goes away on its own within a few days.
  • Bacterial conjunctivitis is also It creates a discharge out of the eye and is typically identified by eyelids being stuck together upon waking.
  • Allergic conjunctivitis is accompanied by allergy-like symptoms, such as a runny nose or itchiness.

 

How is it Treated?

Though it can be difficult to identify which type of pink eye is present, it’s important to know how to treat each type. Viral conjunctivitis is short-lived, and usually goes away on its own within a few days, while bacterial conjunctivitis can be treated with antibiotic eye drops. Allergic conjunctivitis symptoms can usually be reduced with an over-the-counter allergy medication.

 

Prevention is Step One

The most important tips about pink eye have to do with prevention. If your kids are able to actively keep down the likelihood of contracting pink eye, you won’t have to worry about any of the treatments above!

 

Here are some ways to avoid contracting or spreading pink eye.

  • Avoid rubbing or touching your eyes as much as possible.
  • Wash your hands often, especially after using the restroom.
  • Use hand sanitizer, especially before meals or after touching anything that may be contaminated by germs.
  • Cover your mouth when coughing or sneezing.
  • Never share personal items like tissues and hand towels.

 

Going back to school may mean sharing germs with hundreds of other children, but it doesn’t have to mean the spread of pink eye. Make sure that your kids are well prepared to prevent pink eye and that you know your treatment options in the worst case scenarios.