High Contrast

How to Tell if Your Child Has Pink Eye

Also known as conjunctivitis, pink eye is a common childhood problem, especially in the younger years.

Parents may not always know the signs of pink eye, however.

Learning to spot pink eye and when to seek treatment is essential for ensuring your child’s well-being as well as the health of friends and neighbors.

What causes pink eye?

Pink eye can stem from one of four causes: viruses, bacteria, allergens, or irritants. Determining the cause of pink eye should be left to a medical professional.

Infants with signs of pink eye should always receive medical care as soon as possible.

If you have children with the symptoms of pink eye, you can visit an urgent care clinic near you for a consultation.

You should certainly seek professional medical help if a child’s symptoms of pink eye do not improve after a week or if the child has a fever or swelling in the eye.

Pink eye symptoms

Pink eye symptoms in kids are relatively easy to spot. Though they can vary from case to case, symptoms usually include the following:

  • A red hue to the white of the eyes
  • Swelling in the white of the eye or under the lid
  • Increased tear production
  • Yellow, green, white or clear discharge from the eyes
  • Burning or itching sensation in the eye
  • Feeling as if something is in the eye
  • Crusting formed at the eyelid or in lashes

Is pink eye contagious?

It depends. Pink eye that stems from an allergen or an irritant is not contagious. Pink eye that stems from a virus or bacteria, however, is very contagious. In these scenarios, use the following steps to protect against the spread of pink eye:

  • Have children with pink eye wash their hands often throughout the day, using soap and warm water and scrubbing for at least 20 seconds
  • Prevent the child with pink eye from touching or rubbing the infected eye

How long is pink eye contagious, and when can kids go back to school?

Rules may vary from school to school. In general, a child is safe to return to a classroom or daycare 24 hours after starting treatment.

Pink eye treatment for kids

When pink eye is caused by a virus, all one can do is wait it out. Allergic pink eye is typically treated with allergy medicines. Bacterial pink eye is treated with eye drops or ointments.

If your child is scared of eye drops, lie your child down and place the drops on the interior corner of the closed eye, then have the child open her eye.

Ointments can sometimes serve as a better option for children who are very nervous to drops. Your doctor may recommend an analgesic for relieving pain or swelling.