Pink eye--remember when you first heard about it in elementary school? Then you asked your mom, and she said "When was the last time you washed your hands?"
As it turns out, Mom had it right. Pink eye is contagious. To avoid pink eye, you can do two things right away: (1) avoid sharing towels and washcloths; and (2) wash your hands. Frequently.
So what is pink eye, really? Isn't it just a disease of kids? Where does it come from? How can we avoid it?
Pink eye, formally conjunctivitis, is an infection of the tissue of the surface of the eye, reports babble.com in its strollerderby blog. It can include the inner eyelid too. You know you have it when your eyes get "goopy, then itchy." And then they get red. Usually kids and adults get it from a viral infection, but it can also result from bacterial infections or even allergies, reports the Advance-Titan at the Univ. of Wisconsin-Oshkosh.
And it's spiking in pediatricians' offices, college health centers, and even in the adult population, reports the Daily Stamford.
Here are some tips to avoiding pink eye:
1. Don't share towels or washcloths in the bathroom or kitchen.
2. If you notice symptoms, avoid touching your eyes.
3. If you do touch the areas around your eyes, wash your hands with soap and water immediately.
4. If your child gets it, keep them home from school to avoid spreading the infection to other children.
And here's a kicker: if your kid brings it home from school or the playground, you could easily get it also. Adults have no immunity, reports babble.com
Medical science has no particular cure, beyond prescription antibiotic eye drops, reports the Advance-Titan. You can also treat symptoms with cool compresses and artificial tears.
And the single best thing to do to avoid pink eye: wash your hands. Frequently. Did we say wash your hands frequently?