Pink eye is instantly recognizable. Many a parent has been woken by a distraught child early in the morning and found their offspring with eyes crusted shut. Once the grime is cleared away, the reddish-pink sclera (white) of the eye is obvious, and it’s time to book an appointment with the doctor then scramble for childcare options because their school or daycare won’t be letting them in that day.
A day later, it happens: You wake up with that same crusty feeling around your own eyes and a bleary stare into the mirror confirms your suspicion. You have pink eye, too. Off to the doctor for more meds. Within a week, you both seem clear of infection, but just as your normal routine starts up again, here it comes back around. Why does your household keep getting pink eye?
At Harlem VistaSite Eye Care in the Harlem neighborhood of New York City, Brittni Rodriguez, OD, and Sarah Quan, OD, will diagnose pink eye and recommend treatment to get rid of it, prevent spread, and reduce your chances of a reinfection.
Pink eye 101
Pink eye, which is commonly called conjunctivitis, is an inflammation of the thin, transparent membrane (conjunctiva) that lines the eyelids and covers the eyes. The tiny blood vessels in the eye get enlarged, causing the pinkness, and the eye produces a lot of liquid, forming a crust while you’re sleeping.
Pink eye can be caused by environmental irritants, allergies, or even a bacterial infection, but this isn’t what usually spurs an outbreak. Unfortunately for all of us, the most common type of pink eye is a viral version which is highly contagious and which won’t respond to antibiotics.
Picking up pink eye
The most common place for pink eye to flourish is a daycare or elementary school. Children who have it are difficult to monitor for appropriate disease control. It can run like wildfire throughout an entire facility, and once your child brings it home, it may spread quickly to the rest of the household as well.
Even if you get rid of pink eye, it can still be present where it was originally contracted. That can mean your child brings it home again, and again, and you pass it back and forth among family members. This can be incredibly frustrating.
Preventing the spread of pink eye
Once pink eye is identified, try to contain your child to a set of rooms (like a bedroom and bathroom) or a floor of the house, and disinfect all surfaces with antivirus cleaners.
Make sure your child washes their hands frequently, and encourage them to refrain from touching their eyes (if only one eye is affected, consider an eyepatch.) Wash each eye with a different clean cloth, and change their pillowcase frequently.
Keep your child away from other children (including siblings), and absolutely don’t send them to daycare or school. No playdates until the infection is cleared.
Beating pink eye
Most cases of pink eye clear on their own in a few days. If the infection lingers, seems to be getting worse, or keeps showing up when you think it’s gone, you need help. The team at Harlem VistaSite Eye Care can examine your child, determine if their infection is viral or bacterial, and give them the appropriate treatment.
To schedule an appointment, call 646-453-6506, or book an appointment online today.