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Conjunctivitis (pink eye)

pinkConjunctivitis is an infection of the eyes commonly known as “Pink eye” It can be caused by virus, bacteria or allergy. Anyone can get conjunctivitis but preschoolers and school-age children get it most often because of crowding and lack of good handwashing. Conjunctivitis is usually a mild illness.

Symptoms include:

  • Red or pink color in the white of the eye
  • Irritation, itchiness, burning of the eye
  • Increased tear production
  • Clear or yellow discharge that may make the eyelid(s) stick together, especially in the morning
  • Swelling of eyelids

An infected person can spread the conjunctivitis through:

  • Coming into contact with tears or discharge with someone who is infected
  • Coughing or sneezing(spread by droplets)

You can help protect yourself by washing your hands often with soap and water.

Preventing the spread of conjunctivitis includes:

  • Appropriate handwashing with soap and water, especially after cleaning or applying eye drops to the affected eye.
  • Avoid touching or rubbing your eyes. This can worsen or spread the infection to the other eye.
  • With clean hands, wash any discharge from around your eyes several times a day with a wet washcloth or cotton balls. Throw away cotton balls after use. Wash used washcloths with hot water and detergent, and then wash your hands again.
  • Wash pillowcases, sheets, washcloths and towels often in hot water and detergent; wash your hands after handling such items.
  • When coughing or sneezing cover nose and mouth.

Treatment of conjunctivitis:

  • Viral Conjunctivitis (most cases): The infection will usually clear up in 7-10 days without treatment and without any long term consequences, some cases may take 2-3 weeks to clear up.
  • Bacterial Conjunctivitis: Prescribed antibiotics (eye drops or eye ointment). Mild bacterial conjunctivitis may get better without antibiotic treatment and without causing any complications. It often improves within 2 to 5 days without treatment but can take 2 weeks to go away completely.

Persons who are concerned about their symptoms should contact their health care provider when they have:

  • pain in the eye(s)
  • Sensitivity to light or blurred vision that does not improve when discharge is wiped from the eye(s)
  • Symptoms that get worse or don’t improve, including bacterial conjunctivitis which doesn’t improve after 24 hours of antibiotic use.

Students need to remain home when until they are without a fever for more than 24 hours and symptoms resolve

www.cdc.gov/conjunctivitis/index.html

If you have any questions please contact your school nurse.