Do you need to see a doctor for pink eye?

KNOXVILLE (WATE) – It’s highly contagious, itchy and irritating and pinkeye is the most common eye problem in childhood.

Most kids who get pink eye will have to stay home from school or out of daycare for a couple days. Many parents wonder if they need to take their kids to see a doctor.

Dr. Katy Stordahl, an emergency room physician at East Tennessee Children’s Hospital says there are several different kinds of pinkeye: bacterial, viral, allergic and chemical. She said children should see a doctor to determine treatment.

Symptoms Contagious
Bacterial Red or pink, itchy, painful; more than a tiny amount of green or yellow discharge; eyes may be crusted shut in the morning; can affect one or both eyes Antibiotic eye drops or ointment is usually prescribed and contagious period ends once course of medication is started or when symptoms are no longer present.
Viral Pink, swollen, watering eyes, sensitive to light; may affect only one eye Antibiotics will not work in this case and virus causing pinkeye has to run its course. You are contagious as long as you have signs/symptoms
Allergic Itching, redness, and excessive tearing, usually in both eyes Not contagious
Chemical Red, watery eyes, especially after swimming in chlorinated water Not contagious

Dr. Stordahl said pink eye is extremely contagious and can be spread simply by touching a surface touched by someone who is contaminated. She said frequent and thorough hand washing is the best way to prevent the spread of pink eye.

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