Treating your child for conjunctivitis
Every parent has probably heard of pink eye, if they have not experienced the infection themselves. Pink eye, or conjunctivitis, is one of the most common childhood illnesses known to man. It is a bacterial infection that strikes the conjunctiva, or protective layer over the eye, and can be quite painful and itchy to the child. It is also highly contagious, going through an entire preschool classroom within a short period of time. Fortunately, when treated, pink eye is rarely serious, just annoying. Untreated, however, the infection can cause serious issues with the eye and even blindness.
Pink eye symptoms
Pink eye features trademark symptoms of a "pink" eye, or redness caused by the bacteria and generally made worse by rubbing, itching that can vary from mild to extreme, and soreness that can also vary from mild to extreme. Sometimes, the eye may tear up or weep pus; this can cause it to stick closed, which can be scary for children. This is not a serious symptom -- the eye will generally unstick within a few hours or with gentle bathing with warm water.
Because pink eye is highly contagious, children are generally advised to be kept home until the eye has cleared up.
Pink eye treatment
A doctor will generally treat pink eye with antibiotic drops to fight the bacterial infection. These can be over the counter or prescribed. Parents and children will be advised not to rub or touch the eye, as this is how pink eye is spread. Pink eye medication is generally highly effective in curing the disease.
Sometimes, if untreated, pink eye can cause corneal ulcers from the bacteria running rampant in the eye. This is serious, because they can lead to extreme pain and blindness. Always get pink eye treated from the first time symptoms appear -- not only will it be more comfortable for your child and allow he or she to heal faster, it will also prevent this complication.
Generally, pink eye clears up within a few days to a week. The child is no longer contagious once this happens and can return to school.