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Does My Child Have a Pink Eye?

Why You Should Pay Attention To The Discharge

By: Dr. Lisa Di Enno, MD, FAAP

Pink eye is one of those conditions that can make people run in the opposite direction due to its ability to be so contagious. During times when we are spending more time at home together, it’s only natural to panic when your child wakes up with a pink eye. After all, it’s an uncomfortable condition that can spread so easily – especially amongst kids.

But did you know there are different types of pink eye? Three, to be exact. Two are contagious, one is not contagious at all. So, before you panic too much, let’s talk about the different types of pink eye.

Pink Eye #1: Bacterial Conjunctivitis

Bacterial conjunctivitis is the type of pink eye that is treated with antibiotic eye drops. This form is highly contagious and can spread through contact with secretions. The good news is that – once treatment begins – your child should be able to return to normal life within about 24 hours.

Bacterial conjunctivitis is often determined by the thick, ongoing discharge from the eye.

Pink Eye #2: Viral Conjunctivitis

Like the bacterial version, viral conjunctivitis is highly contagious and spreads through contact with secretions. Because it is viral, kids usually have other cold symptoms as well, such as fever, fatigue, cough, tummy ache, etc.

A few characteristics of viral conjunctivitis:

  • feels like having grit or sand in the eye
  • if you pull down the lower lid you will notice bumps on the skin
  • the lymph nodes in front of the ear are often swollen and tender, too

This type of pink eye typically affects both eyes and has a discharge with a stringy, mucous-like texture.

Pink Eye #3: Allergic Conjunctivitis

Finally, we have allergic conjunctivitis. This type affects both eyes which are often watery and itchy. Most often the children who have this type of pink eye also have other allergies or there is a history of allergic disease within their immediate family. It can be treated with allergy medication, such as Zyrtec or Flonase.


Keep in mind that it is normal for a child to wake up occasionally with a crusty eye. Doing so does not mean that it is pink eye. Instead, pay attention to the discharge – that is going to be the key determining factor as to what type of pink eye you are dealing with, if any at all.

Do you think it is pink eye? Don’t panic – our pediatricians are here for you. Book your telemedicine appointment XpertCare today, click here:  https://xpertcare.vsee.me/u/clinic

Dr. Lisa Di Enno is the Chief Medical Officer at XpertCare Pediatric Digital Clinic. You can contact her at lisadienno@xpertcare.online to schedule an appointment.