What is conjunctivitis?
Very common eye infection.
‘Itis’ on the end indicates an inflammation of the conjunctiva (the clear membrane covering the white of the eye and inner surface of the eyelids).
Why does it happen?
Often caused by an infection (virus or bacteria) and highly contagious.
Or as a result of an allergic reaction (not contagious).
How does my child catch this eye infection?
As long as the child has discharge from their eye, they are contagious.
It’s easily spread through touch; so sneezing, coughing, contaminated fingers or objects such as toys.
Signs & Symptoms:
Symptoms usually develop within 24 to 72 hours of becoming infected and can last for two days to three weeks.
- Puffy / swelling of the eye/s.
- Redness behind the eyelid, spreading up to the white of the eye.
- Discharge from the eye/s, often dries when the child sleeps and crusting will often form around the eyelids.
- Excessive tears.
- Dislike of bright lights.
- Red, itchy eye with discharge. Can involve one or both eyes.
- Pus present, generally both eyes are infected.
- Itchy, watery eyes, including signs of hay fever (itchy nose and sneezing).
How do I manage my child’s conjunctivitis?
Viral – Soak cotton balls in warm water and gently cleanse the infected eye/s. Always clean in one direction, single use only and discard each cotton ball to prevent recontamination.
CAUTION: Cleaning inside the eyelids may cause damage to the conjunctiva.
Bacterial- Your child’s doctor may prescribe an antibiotic drop / ointment such as Chlorsig. Read instructions and apply to both eyes if necessary.
Allergic – Antihistamines may be needed to treat allergic conjunctivitis, consult your pharmacist.
When should I seek help?
If your child complains of the following:
- Pain to the eye/s.
- Visual disturbances.
- The inflammation e.g.: swelling, tenderness and redness doesn’t improve.
- Your child has a fever and is generally unwell or you are concerned.