PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – Has your child brought home the newest gift from school or daycare?
Pink eye season is in full bloom in all its itchiness and discomfort.
The question is, how do you keep everyone in the house from getting it?
How many times did the late director of the Allegheny County Health Department, Dr. Bruce Dixon, almost teasingly tell us the answer to all disease prevention is washing your hands? Well, that is exactly the case with pink eye.
Pink eye is nothing to mess with.
“Very contagious. You know, some studies quote up to 50% of it being contagious for about 10 to 14 days,” according to Dr. Sabrina Mukhtar, assistant professor of ophthalmology at Pitt Medical School. “Like many viruses, it often comes home from school, and once in the front door, typically, the rest of the family is getting it.”
The telltale sign is pink to red in the white of your eye, puffiness, and unbearable itchiness.
“The typical story is it started in one eye, and then a couple of days later it [goes] to the other eye,” Dr. Mukhtar said.
Dr. Mukhtar advises against rubbing your eyes but concedes that it’s almost impossible to keep from touching your eye, so substitute with a wet paper towel.
“The cool compress will give you that symptomatic relief, but then you just toss it away.”
To prevent spread, your washing machine is going to get a real workout.
“Like the towels, the bed sheets, you know, you have to keep washing,” the doctor adds.
Dr. Mukhtar says if you don’t wash your pillowcase daily, you could reinfect yourself. As for protecting your significant other?
“I would recommend that you think about not sleeping in the same room.”
Stay home from work and keep the kids out of school.
“Wait until you don’t have discharge coming from the eye. Because at that point, you’re still considered infectious.”
Dr. Mukhtar says it’s challenging to keep a child from passing pink eye to a sibling, especially if they share toys or bedrooms.
Again, it comes back to drilling into everyone about hand washing. Keep alcohol-based wipes on hand to wipe things down, such as game controllers and remote controls.
What about getting an antibiotic from your doctor?
Dr Mukhtar says it won’t help.
Instead, use artificial tears, cold compresses for comfort, and lots of hand washing. She says pink eye will pass in 7-10 days.
If it doesn’t, see your doctor.