Pink eye is common disorder in kids. The tell-tale red eyes, tearing, matting and draining is known for its ‘viral’ spread through classrooms and daycares.
“There’s about four main types of conjunctivitis: Viral and that’s actually the most common, there’s also bacterial which is also quite common and actually more common in kids than in adults. There’s also allergic conjunctivitis which is not infectious in nature. And there’s something that's termed non-specific conjunctivitis so that could mean maybe irritation of the eyes from exposure to chemicals,” says Lee Memorial Health System pediatrician Dr. Anthony Pietroniro.
While schools and childcare centers are always on the lookout, there is a season for this sickness: one of them is spring. Flower blooms and pollen create a pretty picture for pinkeye.
“Allergic conjunctivitis we often see especially around this time of year. And that’s actually not due to an infection, not due to a virus, not due to bacteria,” says Dr. Pietroniro.
While there are no ‘tests’ that distinguish between viral and bacterial variations- the allergic form has a few characteristics that set it apart. The pinkness is still there, but a noticeable feature is itchiness.
“It’s more of a watery clear kind of discharge and a lot, a lot of itching,” Dr. Pietroniro says.
“However the caveat is allergic conjunctivitis could become secondarily infected with a bacterial conjunctivitis especially if the person suffering from it is rubbing their eyes a lot and their hands aren’t clean.”
Antibiotics aren’t used in cases of allergic pinkeye. Treatment consists of soothing drops, warm compresses with a dose of hand-washing to stop the spread of germs.