How to protect your child from pinkeye

(Photo: WKRN)

KNOXVILLE (WATE)- Pinkeye is itchy, irritating, highly contagious and the most common eye problem during childhood.

Most children that contract pinkeye will miss a day or two of school or daycare. However, the question is: does your child need to see a doctor?

Dr. Shannon Cohen with Children’s Hospital says yes. There are several kinds of pinkeye: bacterial, viral, chemical, even allergies can cause pinkeye.

Symptoms include:

  • 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)
  • Viral (Pink, swollen, watering eyes, sensitive to light; may affect only one eye)
  • Allergic (Itching, redness, and excessive tearing, usually in both eyes)
  • Chemical (Red, watery eyes, especially after swimming in chlorinated water)

It is spread through contact. If someone touched an infected eye without washing their hand afterwards the bacteria and stay on any surface they touch. Frequent hand washing is the best way to prevent infection.

Bacterial pinkeye remains contagious until it is treated with antibiotic eye drops or ointment and symptoms are no longer present.

Viral pinkeye is contagious as long as symptoms remain. Antibiotics will not work on a viral infection.

Pinkeye caused by chemicals or allergies is not contagious.

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