Pink eye, whose technical name is conjunctivitis, is a common condition that is most often seen in children. The conjunctiva is the protective membrane that covers the whites of the eyes and also lines the inside surface of the eyelids.
This mucus membrane on the eyes is normally transparent, but it turns a pink or reddish color when the tiny blood vessels in the conjunctiva are inflamed – and this inflammation is conjunctivitis. Other symptoms of pink eye can include eye pain, sensitivity to light, and discharge.
How Is Pink Eye Treated?
There are three primary types of conjunctivitis, and your doctor will prescribe treatment based on the type that is present. They are as follows:
Pink eye is usually caused by a virus, and this type causes a watery discharge which is extremely contagious. It is easily spread when the affected person sneezes or coughs, and it also easily spreads from the affected eye to the other eye.
Treatment: Doctors don’t treat viral conjunctivitis with antibiotics, since they have no effect on viruses. The doctor will provide the patient with comfort measures, such as eye drops and decongestants that relieve swelling. An itchy sensation may occur with this type of conjunctivitis, and scratching may exacerbate the situation – so an antihistamine treatment is recommended to help relieve the itch.
In bacterial conjunctivitis, one or both eyes are contaminated with bacteria, resulting in an eye infection. The bacterium is often contracted as a result of contact with another person who has pink eye. However, this can also pass through infections that are already present in the body, such as a sinus infection or ear infection. Bacterial conjunctivitis is characterized by discharge that resembles pus, along with the pink distinction of the transparent membrane.
Treatment: The doctor may prescribe antibiotics to treat bacterial conjunctivitis.
Allergic conjunctivitis is the result of an allergic reaction. This type of pink eye is often accompanied by itchy eyes. Your physician will treat the conjunctivitis by treating the underlying allergy.
Treatment: Your physician may prescribe allergy medication to improve the symptoms. Prescription eye drops could also help to relieve discomfort.
Pediatricians in Newburyport and Haverhill, MA
Pink eye often clears up on its own, but do not attempt to diagnose the type of conjunctivitis that is present. If the condition is getting worse, see your doctor.
Here at Children’s Health Care, we provide pediatric care to newborns through adolescence to age 18. If your child has pink eye, have the child see a pediatrician right away.
If you would like to schedule an appointment, contact us today at our Newburyport office by calling (978) 465-7121 or our Haverhill office by calling (978) 373-6557. You can also fill out our appointment request form online now. We look forward to helping your child live a happy, healthy childhood!