Conjunctivitis is an eye disease that is extremely common in children. In some cases, it affects just one eye but it can spread to both.
Conjunctivitis is an eye disease that is extremely common in children.
In some cases, it affects just one eye
but it can spread to both. Although it is a minor eye infection
, conjunctivitis is usually very contagious which is why it spreads so easily in school environments.
In some cases, conjunctivitis is caused by a reaction to something in the air such as pollen or smoke. It can also start as a reaction to certain cosmetics or contact lenses. If your little one contracts it there is a very strong possibility that they’ve caught it from a close pal at school though.
The symptoms of conjunctivitis vary depending on how severe the infection is. In most cases, there will be a gritty feeling in the infected eye. You or your child may experience a stinging or burning sensation as well as an extremely tearful eye (or eyes) that will not stop dripping. As a result of the irritation, eyelids can become sensitive and swollen as well as being sensitive to light. The eye can take on a pink discolouration which is why a lot of people refer to this condition as “pink eye”.
There are many different kinds of conjunctivitis. If yours does not clear up quickly your doctor may take a swab to have it assessed. Some newborn babies can be born with conjunctivitis which is actually a result of chlamydia. If the mother has chlamydia it can be passed to the baby during childbirth.
In most cases, your doctor will be able to diagnose which kind of conjunctivitis you or your child has by speaking to you about how it started. They can determine whether it is irritant conjunctivitis, allergic conjunctivitis or infective conjunctivitis by mapping out how the infection started and the manner in which the symptoms appeared.
Irritant conjunctivitis could be the result of a chemical getting into your eye and allergic conjunctivitis is usually caused by an allergen such as pollen or smoke. Infective conjunctivitis is the type that is spread by close contact with another individual that has the condition.
The treatment options are quite different depending on which kind of conjunctivitis you or your little one has. In the case of infective conjunctivitis, there will often be no treatment necessary and it will clear up all by itself. The doctor may recommend an eye-drop or specific eye care practice to ensure the eye is kept clean, particularly if you are a contact lens wearer. Keeping your little one’s hands clean is really important too as naturally they will touch their eye and they may spread the infection to a friend or family member. Some people are more vulnerable than others for example if a family member is elderly or a newborn baby is infected. It is important to do everything you can to stop the disease from spreading while it heals.
Antibiotics are usually not prescribed for infective conjunctivitis as they usually make no difference to the healing time. However, if the infection does not clear up after seven days your doctor may prescribe an antibiotic which may be in tablet or drop form.
If symptoms of conjunctivitis are still evident after two weeks it is important to raise the issue with your doctor to ensure that there is no permanent or serious damage occurring.
Tracey is a happy mammy to four-year-old Billy. She is a breastfeeder, gentle parent and has recently lost five stone so healthy family eating is her passion! You can find her at www.loveofliving.com.