About My Two Hats

Thoughts on everything from parenting to policy from pediatrician/mom, Dr. Heidi Roman.

Do I need to keep my child home from school if he has pinkeye?

Pink eye, or conjunctivitis, is an extremely common childhood illness and this question is one we often face in clinic.

First, it is helpful to know that there are various types of conjunctivitis.

Bacterial conjunctivitis causes red, itchy, and often painful eyes. It can affect one or both eyes, and is often accompanied by yellowish discharge and mild swelling. This type of pink eye sometimes requires antibiotic eye drops prescribed by a pediatrician.

Viral conjunctivitis causes pink, watery, itchy eyes. It may affect one or both eyes. Note that it is sometimes difficult to determine whether a child has bacterial or viral pink eye. The vast majority of cases of either type will resolve on their own within 5-7 days without treatment.

Allergic conjunctivitis is itchy, watery, pink eyes that tend to occur in a seasonal nature. It generally affects both eyes.

Irritant conjunctivitis manifests as pink, watery eyes after contact with an eye irritant (such as sand or chlorine). It generally resolves quickly without treatment, although contact with some irritants may require eye washing.

The majority of cases of pinkeye in school-aged children are viral in nature. These infections are generally mild and resolve without antibiotic treatment. They are, however, contagious during the period that the child has symptoms. The illness is spread via contact with eye discharge, either directly or by touching surfaces that have been in contact with the discharge. You might imagine that in a busy childcare or school setting full of curious young children, it can be challenging to limit spread.

The decision whether to keep you child home from school is sometimes a difficult one, and depends on various factors.

  •  Is your child ill with more generalized symptoms including fever? If so, it may be prudent to keep the child home.
  • What is your childcare or school’s policy regarding pink eye? On a practical level, this may be the primary factor to consider when deciding whether to keep your child home. Many schools have a policy that a child may return to school 24 hours after starting antibiotic drops for conjunctivitis. Therefore, if you believe your child’s infection is bacterial it is prudent to see your child’s pediatrician to determine whether they need drops.

For the vast majority of cases of pink eye, which are viral in nature, you might think of it as you do a common cold. The truth is that, like the common cold, a child is often contagious and has exposed friends and classmates before symptoms are even noticed. Prevention is the best cure for these common viruses. Learn about how your child’s school attempts to limit transmission of these illnesses. Teach even very young children to wash their hands frequently (especially if they are rubbing/itching their eyes), to sneeze in their sleeve, and to cover their mouth if they cough.

If you have further questions about pink eye or your child’s symptoms seem to be worsening rather than improving after a few days, seek care from your pediatrician.

This article originally appeared as part of the “Ask the Pediatrician” column at HealthyChildren.org, the parent information site of the American Academy of Pediatrics. For more information see,

 

Vulnerable

It’s when I’m putting my son to bed at night that I feel it most acutely. Smelling his hair. Watching him breathe. It overwhelms me. There’s a name for what I’m feeling. Vulnerable.

Absolute and total vulnerability. Vulnerability that comes from a love so profound it cannot be described. I think, no one told me about this part of parenting. But then I think that even if they had I wouldn’t have understood. Heart on my sleeve isn’t the half of it. Continue reading

Helping Young Kids Adjust to a Move

7736032314_5c69699f36_qIt’s funny, growing up I didn’t really move at all. I lived in the same house in a small midwestern town from age 2 to 18. But, since leaving home for college I’ve had my share of moves. Seventeen different abodes in now three states. I didn’t really mean to turn into a nomad, it just sort of happened. You get pretty good at paring down belongings and change of address notifications. Continue reading

Sleep, Mama, Sleep

IMG_1658When my son was an infant (and not the greatest sleeper), we’d rock and listen to lullabies. We listened to one CD so many times that many of the songs are seared into my brain. I remember one song in particular. “Sleep, baby, sleep. It is time to close your eyes.” I’d sing along, willing the words to come true. Continue reading

A Doctor’s Heart

photo (1)In just a few days I’ll be leaving the clinic where I’ve practiced pediatrics for the past six years. The last months have been a flurry of last visits with families, paperwork, and tying up loose ends. There have been many, many goodbyes. I’ve been deeply moved by the expressions of gratitude and affection that many families have shared with me. It seems it is always in these times of change and endings that we are most open with each other. Continue reading

Book Review: Mama Doc Medicine

mama doc medicineFirst a disclosure- I am an unabashed fan of Dr. Wendy Sue Swanson, aka Seattle Mama Doc. I have long followed her blog and twitter feed and so appreciate her work. A pediatrician and mom, she writes clear, evidence-based blog posts in an open and transparent manner. She has an unmatched ability to break down emerging science around child health into relatable, practical tips. I’m excited to report that her book, Mama Doc Medicine, combines many of her best blog posts with new information creating a fantastic new resource for parents and all who care for kids.

Continue reading

Copy and Paste Medicine

I’ve been working with the latest electronic medical record (EMR) for almost a year now. You know the one. There are many positive changes, to be sure. It has helped me more than a few times with calculating doses for kids’ medications. I can now easily check in on my patients’ progress when they are admitted to the hospital. And, of course, the notes are far more legible.

But what do the notes actually tell me? Sadly, sometimes, not much. Continue reading

The Perils of Distracted Driving

distracteddrivingI gotta say, the daily commute has been feeling a bit hairy lately. Seems like I’m passing accidents more frequently. Watching a bit more weaving. I can’t be sure that it’s all related to distracted driving, but sure seems like a lot of it is. Every day I witness drivers looking down at phones at stoplights, missing the change to green. I even saw a smartphone mounted to one car’s driver side dash and the driver scrolling through websites during rush hour traffic on the freeway. Scary stuff. Continue reading

3 Words for 2014. Focus. Accept. Sleep.

IMG_1401Over the past few years, in leiu of goal-oriented New Year’s resolutions, I’ve chosen words to serve as a guide for my year. Inspired by a few writers I admire, I’ve found this practice to be very meaningful for me. And setting it in writing here on the blog last year was quite powerful. I found that the words Decide, Attend, and Play stayed in the fore throughout the year. I went back to the post a number of times to gauge how I was doing. And, although I can’t say I always succeeded in meeting my own expectations, I do think that setting these intentions did affect the flow of my year. So, here are my words for 2014. Continue reading