Getting Real with Megan Gregory

I never had pink eye growing up, and I had truly been convinced the only way to contract it was by getting feces in your eye. Yes, up until my mid-20s, I honestly believed you needed to get feces into your eye in order to get pink eye.

Turns out, it is much easier and less gross to catch it. I definitely do not want to get science-y, but evidently, there are two kinds of pink eye: viral and bacterial. Easy enough. Viral usually makes the white part of the eye turn red while bacterial usually makes the eye discharge super disgusting, non-stop eye boogers that often crust the eye shut.

Bacterial infections are fairly easily spread when the child does something as simple as rubs their nose on their hand and then at some point wipes their eye with the same hand, thus transferring the bacteria from the nose into the eye. Viral pink eye is a waiting game and bacterial requires eye drops – guess which one my kid is prone to?  The kind requiring eye drops.

Do you know how hard it is to convince a three year old to lay down, stay still, but keep their eye wide open so that you can drop a bubble of liquid onto their eye?  The bribery of fruit snacks – that’s how I manage to make this eye drop thing happen and it has to happen every three to four hours for seven days!  So yes, the Costco sized box of fruit snacks has been dwindling a bit recently.

But even aside from my son’s gross looking eye and the endless eye drops, the worst part, for me, is the cleaning.  You see, I treat pink eye like head lice – everything must be cleaned daily to prevent reinfection.  This means EVERYONE’S bedding is getting washed every day during the seven days of eye drops, every surface is getting disinfected, each bathroom is getting scoured daily, all of the carpet is being vacuumed daily, couches are getting sprayed with disinfectant – and the toys.  Ugh, the toys are the worst but they must be cleaned, too.  My brain is literally spinning with, “Did I remember the door knobs?  What about the light switches? Ah! The refrigerator handle!”

The saddest part of this whole experience? Having to restrict the interactions between my son and his baby sister, because the last thing we need is an infant with pink eye.  My son loves his sister so much and to try to explain to him why he needs to keep a little distance and not touch her for a couple of days is difficult, because he wants to play with her and make her laugh. Luckily, I have an extremely rational toddler who responds well when things are explained to him, so he cooperates fairly well. That being said, I can see the look of disappointment on his face when I tell him he can’t lay with her on her blanket or cuddle with her or give toys to her.

So how do we get through pink eye and eye drops? By explaining what’s going on. I never thought the way to make a three-year-old cooperate would be to have a rational conversation, but that’s what works for us. I tell him that the eye drops are what has made the goop go away and the made his eye feel better. I tell him that we are cleaning everything so that nobody else gets an owie on their eye. I tell him that the reason he needs to keep some distance from his sister is so that her eye doesn’t start hurting, too. And you know what?  He gets it.  Maybe it’s that kids are empathetic by nature, but the idea that his sister could get sick, too, is enough for him to leave her alone.

Remember to Clean These Things When Your Toddler Gets Pink Eye:

  1. Door knobs
  2. Light switches they can reach
  3. Refrigerator and any other handle they can reach
  5. Wash all of the blankets and bedding
  6. Table tops and end table surfaces
  7. Switch out their cup each day for a clean cup
  8. The car seat and any portion of the vehicle they have access to
  9. Books they’ve handled
  10. Toilet handle and edge of the bathtub

Products I Use:

  1. Lysol Disinfectant Spray – I use this on things like the carpet or furniture. Otherwise I try to avoid Lysol.
  2. Seventh Generation all purpose cleaner
  3. Seventh Generation Disinfecting Wipes
  4. Seventh Generation Laundry Detergent