Prevent Pink Eye in the Classroom

September is “Children’s Eye Health Month”. In recognition of that, the American Academy is providing information for parents and educators on how to prevent the the spread of infectious conjunctivitis “pink eye” in the classroom.

Estimates are that over 164 million school days are missed by children nationwide because of infectious diseases about 3 million of which are from pink eye (source - American Journal of Infection Control).

Conjuctivitis means swelling of the conjunctiva, which is the thin membrane that covers the inside of the eyelids and the white part of the eye. It can be caused by cold viruses which usually cause irritation and redness but little discharge. It can be caused by allergies which gives one the “itchy / watery” eyes familiar to anyone with seasonal allergies. Or, it can be caused by a bacteria which leads to redness, irritation and typically a lot of mucous yellow or green discharge.

To help prevent it: encourage your child(ren) to wash or gel their hands often and avoid touching their eyes throughout the day. Discourage the reusing of towels, washcloths, handkerchiefs or tissues that have been used by others to wipe their face. Clean their pillowcases frequently.

If your child has conjunctivitis, a warm compress might help it feel better. If one eye is infected, make sure not to use the same cloth on the non-infected eye so it doesn’t spread. As always, if it worsens or if there is a lot of discharge, see your doctor t see if antibiotic drops, or some other treatment is warranted.
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