We all know that raising kids is a full-time job. And keeping our little ones healthy is one of the most demanding parts of that job description. No matter how many times we tell our kids to wash their hands and keep their fingers away from their eyes or out of their mouths, there’s no guarantee they’ll listen.

So, what do you do when the inevitable happens and your child gets sick? In the case of conjunctivitis, also known as pink eye, it takes a combination of home treatment and help from a care provider. The good news is that pink eye can quickly and conveniently be treated at an online clinic.

We’ll walk you through the characteristics of pink eye and how to get treatment and a pink eye prescription at Virtuwell, our online clinic.

How is pink eye spread?

Pink eye is very contagious and can spread through direct contact – meaning kids can give it to each other by touch, coughing and sneezing near each other, or by sharing objects. This is why covering coughs and frequent handwashing is so important in preventing the spread of pink eye. Pink eye can be contagious before symptoms are even present and can remain contagious until symptoms subside.

What are the symptoms of pink eye?

The symptoms of pink eye are typically easy to spot. The lower whites of the eyes are usually red. Kids might say their eyes feel itchy or hurt. And there may be crust or oozing around the eye – especially after a child wakes up.

How to treat pink eye

Treatments for pink eye vary depending on the type – it could be caused by a viral or bacterial infection. Pink eye can also be caused by allergies, but allergy-related pink eye isn’t contagious. Getting a proper diagnosis will help you get the best treatment for your child, while at-home treatments can help relieve uncomfortable symptoms.

Pink eye treatment at home

Cold compresses (made by dampening washcloths) are among the most effective at-home treatments for pink eye symptom relief. Use a separate compress for each eye and use a clean washcloth with each application. You can also clean your child’s eyes by wiping a tissue or similar material from the inner edge of the eye to the outer edge. Use clean material for each wipe so that nothing is rubbed back into the eye.

Over-the-counter pink eye medicine like eye drops can help with itchiness and pain, and some are made with antihistamines for allergy-related pink eye.

Other treatments for pink eye

Viral pink eye tends to last around 5-7 days – although it can last up to three weeks. Viral pink eye usually doesn’t require medical treatment. Keep your child at home until their symptoms start to improve, which usually happens in about 3-5 days.

Bacterial pink eye symptoms may last for 7-10 days. But this window, and the time your child has to stay at home, can be shortened by using prescription antibiotics. Once your child starts a course of antibiotics, they’re typically safe to return to school or other activities after 24 hours if their symptoms have improved.

Allergy-related pink eye, like other allergic reactions, can be relieved by identifying and removing the allergen affecting your child. A care provider can recommend and prescribe antihistamines, decongestants and other medicines for symptom relief.

Pink eye infection treatment online

Pink eye is a perfect example of when to seek care at an online clinic. Pink eye is typically highly contagious – which means your child can’t go to daycare or school while infected. It’s also often easy to treat with antibiotics. But, when your child isn’t feeling well, the last thing you want to do is go to the doctor and sit in a waiting room for a diagnosis. These considerations were all factors that led Renee Schwartz to try Virtuwell for her son’s pink eye. Here’s what she said about her experience:

I had noticed my 3-year-old son’s eyes looked irritated in the morning and didn’t think much of it. But at 6:15 p.m. when I picked him and my other boys up from summer day camp, I saw that his eyes had become red and goopy. I knew my son’s condition wasn’t urgent. But it did look like pink eye, so I didn’t want to wait all weekend.

With three boys, we are frequent visitors to the doctor and urgent care. I knew the MinuteClinic closed around 7 p.m., so I considered all options. I remembered I’d heard about Virtuwell, and I went online to see if they diagnosed pink eye. I was happy to see they did.

I answered questions about his symptoms and took a picture of my son’s eye. The questions were about his symptoms and how long they had been occurring, and a few about his medical history. Honestly, getting my 3-year-old to sit still for the photo was probably the biggest challenge. The rest of the process was a breeze. I finished, and within 10 minutes a nurse practitioner had emailed me back. She confirmed that it was bacterial conjunctivitis and sent a prescription to my pharmacy. I was picking up my son’s medication 15 minutes later.

Renee Schwartz, her husband, and their three children sit on a picnic table outside
Renee Schwartz and her family

What else can Virtuwell diagnose and treat?

Eye conditions, like pink eye, dry eyes and styes, are just a few of the more than 60 conditions Virtuwell treats. From swimmer’s ear and eczema to allergies and rashes, Virtuwell is a simple, convenient and affordable way to get online care for your whole family.