Pink Eye (Conjunctivitis) – Symptoms, Causes, and Treatment for Children

Pink eye (conjunctivitis) is a common condition that can affect the eyes of everyone from babies to pensioners. It is more common in young kids, as it is usually infectious and quickly spreads around preschools and playgrounds.  

This post will explore what pink eye is and the symptoms, causes, and treatments available for kids.  

What is pink eye? 

Pink eye is a viral or bacterial infection that affects the covering of the eyeball and the inside of the eyelid. Conjunctivitis is more commonly known as pink eye because the infection makes the eyeball and surrounding area pink or red. It is more common in young children up to the age of five, but newborns, older kids, teenagers, and adults can all get pink eye occasionally.  

Pink Eye Treatment in Littleton

What are the symptoms of pink eye?  

Conjunctivitis usually looks a lot worse than it is. The main symptom is conjunctiva, the white part of the eye turning pink or red. This may be accompanied by: 

  • Eye irritation and itchiness, causing your child to rub their eyes constantly 
  • Lots of tearing in the eyes
  • Swelling and puffy eyelids 
  • Yellow-green discharge from the eyes when your child sleeps
  • Sensitivity to bright lights

The symptoms of pink eye often develop quite quickly after infection and can last anywhere from two days to three weeks.  

What causes pink eye in children? 

A viral or bacterial infection usually causes conjunctivitis, but in rare cases, newborns may develop pink eye when their eyes become irritated by eye drops given to prevent bacterial infections.  

Sometimes, a newborn can get pink eye because of bacteria that cause sexually transmitted infections. If the mother has a sexually transmitted infection (STI) such as chlamydia or gonorrhea, this can be passed on to the baby during a vaginal birth causing pink eye. In many cases, the pregnant woman might not even know they are infected, so getting screened is the best way to protect yourself and your baby.  

In young children, pink eye is often caused by contact with bacteria, viruses, or allergens. When bacteria or a virus causes pink eye, it can be easily spread around the preschool or school. 

Coughing, sneezing, or touching objects after rubbing one’s eyes can spread pink eye. If your child touches any surfaces or towels that a child with pink eye has touched, there is a high likelihood that your child will also get the infection. 

If your child has any of the symptoms of pink eye, they should stay home until there is no more discharge in the eyes. They should also avoid sharing towels, tissues, and pillowcases with anyone else.  

Ensure that they and everyone in the house regularly wash their hands to prevent anyone else from getting infected.  

How is pink eye treated in children?  

In mild cases of pink eye, with no white, yellow, or green discharge, the disease is likely caused by a viral infection. You can treat this at home by gently cleaning the eye area with cotton balls soaked in warm water or by applying warm compresses. Eye drops can also be used to provide relief. 

In the case of a bacterial infection, your doctor will prescribe some antibacterial eye drops or ointment. Antihistamines will help with allergies that cause pink eye.  

Once treatment starts, the symptoms usually clear up quickly. 

When to call your doctor 

If you notice that symptoms are worsening or not responding to treatment, book an appointment with your doctor for a check-up. If you are worried about pink eye or allergic conjunctivitis or you want some advice, contact Focus On Kids Pediatrics today to book an appointment with one of our board-certified pediatricians.