What are the Signs of Pink Eye in Children?

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  • Written By: Dan Cavallari
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 14 September 2018
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Children are more susceptible to pink eye, or conjunctivitis, than adults for many reasons, including the fact that children are more likely to touch their faces often, transferring bacteria to that region of the face. Pink eye in children will manifest itself as redness in the white part of the eye, known as the sclera. Pus may also develop in and around the eye; sometimes the pus can become so thick that it seals the eyelids shut, most commonly after sleep. Treating pink eye in children is not a difficult process, though the child must keep from touching the eye or his or her face.

Different kinds of pink eye in children will produce different kinds of symptoms. A bacterial infection, for example, will very often produce pus, while a viral infection will not. Allergic reactions that cause pink eye in children may or may not produce pus, though in all three cases, the eye is likely to turn red and feel itchy or burning. The child's eyesight is not usually affected, though some blurring may occur, especially if pus builds up in and around the eyelids.


To treat pink eye in children, it is important to keep the eyes and face clean. Any pus that develops should be cleaned with a moist towel, which should not be touched or shared by anyone else. Most cases of pink eye in children will go away on their own, though in some cases medications may be necessary. Antihistamines can help relieve itching and burning associated with pink eye caused by an allergic reaction. To alleviate itching and burning, a cool, moist towel can be placed on the eyes for a few minutes at a time, and liquid eye drops can be used as well to help keep the eyes moist.

Other causes of pink eye in children can be more severe and may require medical attention. Such conditions are usually the result of some sort of foreign material touching the eyeballs. Chemicals or other caustic materials can cause the eyes to turn red, and itching and burning may be felt. The condition may worsen over time, leading to potentially serious conditions, including blindness. If chemicals or other caustic materials cause pink eye, it is important to seek medical attention immediately, even if no other symptoms such as pain or discomfort are felt, as some chemicals may cause damage the longer it remains in contact with the eye.



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