Children like to touch everything and anything, and that includes their eyes. Because of this, your child’s eyes may start getting a little red, but you’re unsure if it’s cause for concern. Sound familiar? At best, your child probably rubbed his eyes a little too hard. Or maybe your child is prone to getting pink eye (i.e. conjunctivitis).
Pink eye is not an unfamiliar name in households, but did you know there is more than one type of it?
The four types are viral, bacterial, allergic and irritant pink eye. They differ according to the agents which cause pink eye, as identified by their respective names. Other than the first three mentioned, which are self-explanatory, irritant pink eye is caused by irritants like sand, dust, or even chlorine from swimming pool water. Bacterial and viral pink eye are contagious, but allergic and irritant pink eye are not.
- Itchy eyes
- Feeling like there’s something in your eye; a grittiness
- Hypersensitivity to light
- Tender, swollen and/or puffy eyes
- Overly watery eyes
- Excess eye discharge and crust
How do I guard against pink eye in kids?
1) Instill good hand-washing habits.
The pandemic has drilled this into our heads, but this holds true for prevention against most diseases. We use our hands to touch our face, to eat, and to clean ourselves, so it makes sense to ensure they’re frequently washed. Furthermore, the fingernails are an often-overlooked source of bacteria and dirt, so be meticulous in teaching your child how to scrub and soap.
2) Place a clean, cold and damp cloth over your child’s peepers whenever he/she reports that they’re itching.
Children are notorious for rubbing their eyes at the slightest itch. Replace the agonized relief from rubbing with a cold towel. By providing an alternative, your child will be socialized to reach for this solution in the future instead of resorting to rubbing.
3) Take note of the materials surrounding your child.
For example, wash their pillowcases and sheets frequently and do not encourage sharing of personal items like towels or handkerchiefs.
Items concerning the eye, like glasses, eye makeup and contacts, shouldn’t be shared either.
Pink eye (Conjunctivitis). Mayo Clinic. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/pink-eye/symptoms-causes/syc-20376355
Pink eye in toddlers: Everything you need to know. MedicalNewsToday. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/327078
Silver, Natalie. (2018, June 1). Identifying and Treating Pink Eye in Toddlers. Healthline. https://www.healthline.com/health/parenting/pink-eye-in-toddlers