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Pink eye

Conjunctivitis is a common eye infection in young children. Bacterial conjunctivitis, which is of most concern in the child care setting, occurs often in children under 5 years of age. Viral conjunctivitis is often found along with the common cold or other mild cold-like illnesses.

What causes pink eye?

Bacteria, viruses, allergies, eye injuries or chemicals

How is pink eye spread?

Hands become contaminated by direct contact with drainage or discharge form an infected eye, or by touching other surfaces that have been contaminated by respiratory tract secretions, and gets into the child’s eyes

What are the symptoms of pink eye?

Bacterial: Pink or red conjunctiva (membrane that covers the eye), white or yellow eye discharge (pus), often with matted eyelids after sleep, and eye pain or redness of the eyelids

Viral: Pink conjunctiva with a clear, watery eye discharge and without fever, eye pain or eyelid redness

Allergic: Itching, redness, excessive tearing, usually of both eyes

Chemical: Red, watery eyes, especially after swimming in chlorinated water

How long is it contagious?

Until the active infection passes

How can I prevent infection?

  1. Keep children’s eyes wiped and free of discharge. Avoid contact with eye drainage. Encourage child not to rub eyes.
  2. Cover nose and mouth when sneezing of coughing.
  3. Dispose of contaminated tissues properly.
  4. Frequent, careful hand washing by child care staff, children and household members.
  5. Clean, rinse with clean water, then sanitize mouthed toys at least daily and when soiled. Try to prevent sharing of toys when conjunctivitis is present.

For more information, please call the Northern Kentucky Health Department at 859.363.2070.

Sources: Northern Kentucky Health Department, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Revised November 2014