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Knowing how to treat pink eye is a must when you have young kids

The fastest way to get rid of pink eye? Online with, says one mom

By Gwen Verchota, PhD, APRN-BC
October 18, 2017

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We all know that raising kids is a full-time job. And keeping our little ones healthy is one of the most time-consuming portions of that job description. No matter how many times we tell our children to wash their hands and keep them away from their eyes or out of their mouth, they don’t always listen. (Really, do they ever listen?)

As a nurse practitioner at, I diagnose and treat patients of all ages, just like at a primary care clinic. But, we do it all online.

One infection that all parents will likely see is conjunctivitis—better known as pink eye. While it’s usually not serious, it spreads easily. And that means pink eye can sweep through preschools and playgrounds fast. So getting it treated quickly is important.

The symptoms of pink eye are easy to spot. The lower whites of the eyes are usually red. Kids might say the eye is itchy or hurts. Another telltale sign? The crusting and oozing that’s most noticeable after a child wakes up.

Renee Schwartz and her family


I see these easy-to-treat symptoms often. Recently, we helped Renee Schwartz – a working mom with 3 boys – when she thought her son might have pink eye. I asked Renee if she’d mind sharing her experience, and what made her decide to try for the first time. Here’s what she had to say:

    When did you first notice your son might have pink eye?

    It was a Thursday or Friday when I noticed my 3-year-old son had red eyes. The timing of these things is never good, is it? We had plans the next day and a busy weekend ahead.

    I had noticed his 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.

    Why did you decide to try

    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, and I went online to see if they diagnosed pink eye. I was happy to see they did.

    I logged into virtuwell, answered questions about his symptoms and took a picture of my son’s eye. The questions were about his symptoms and how long it 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 had emailed me back. She confirmed that it was bacterial conjunctivitis and sent in a prescription to my pharmacy. I was picking up my son’s medication 15 minutes later.

    Do you see yourself visiting in the future?

    I will definitely be using virtuwell again—it was so easy. I’ve looked into other conditions they treat and it turns out they can even diagnose ear infections. One of my older sons is usually coming down with that at some point during the year.

    What would you say to someone who is considering using online care, but hasn’t yet?

    Heck, why not? If the nurses at virtuwell can’t help you, there’s no charge. And if they can help you, it’s inexpensive. The best part, though, might be that you don’t have to haul your 3 tired kids to a waiting room and sit there for an hour.

One of the best parts of my job is hearing stories like Renee’s. I just love knowing that we are able to make a difference – even if it’s as simple as saving a busy mom from having to spend a Friday night in a waiting room.

What can virtuwell diagnose and treat?

Conditions treated at

About Gwen Verchota, PhD, APRN-BC

Gwen Verchota is the Care Delivery Manager at HealthPartners’ online clinic, She's a leader in creating safe, effective online treatment plans. And she loves leading a team of nurse practitioners that’s passionate about providing convenient, personalized care. Outside of work, you’ll find Gwen golfing, downhill skiing and cheering on the Minnesota Wild with her husband and two kids. She can’t wait to get her kayak out on the lake at the cabin they’re building in Walker, Minn.

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