Conjunctivitis also known as Pink Eye, is caused by any number of things including bacteria, viruses, allergies and irritating agents that cause the covering of the eyeball known as the conjunctiva to become red. The eyes look blood-shot and may or may not itch. The eyelids may be stuck together in the morning due to tearing or drainage. Warm compresses to clean the eyes and ocular decongestants are the treatment of choice. A doctor may need to treat the underlying cause.
Conjunctivitis is an extremely contagious eye infection that should be treated promptly by antibiotics. Because it is so contagious extra care should be taken to avoid spreading of infectious organisms.
- Wash your hands before and after touching near the eye or the eye it’s self.
- Wear gloves to apply medication for others and then wash your hands. Gloves are never a substitute for hand washing, especially when dealing with eye infections.
- Use medication exactly as ordered and for as long as ordered.
- Instruct your parent to not rub their eye.
- Use a single tissue or damp cotton ball to gently wipe drainage from each eye. Start at the inside corner and sweep outward then discard immediately. Never use the same tissue or cotton ball on both eyes to avoid cross-contamination. Wash your hands.
- Warm or cool compresses, whichever feels better, will help to decrease discomfort and can be used several times a day. Keep cloths separate from other laundry and wash in hot water. Wash your hands.
- Wash pillowcases in hot water and change them at least daily, more often if you see drainage. Once the infection is cleared up, wash all the bed linens. Wash your hands after handling linens.
- Towels, face cloths, handkerchiefs or any other material that comes in the contact with the face should be kept separate from other clothing and washed in hot soapy water. Wash your hands after handling.
- No swimming, no contact lenses and no eye makeup until your eyes have been clear for at least two days.
- Discard any eye makeup, especially mascara and eyeliner, that might have become contaminated.
It is a bit of extra work but worth the effort to prevent the spread of this painful infection.