DESCRIPTIONConjunctivitis is an inflammation of the eyelid's underside and the white part of the eye.
Appropriate health care includes:
Self-care after diagnosis.
Physician's monitoring of general condition and medications.
SIGNS & SYMPTOMSClear, green, or yellow discharge from your child's eye.
After sleeping, crusts on lashes that cause eyelids to stick together.
Sensitivity to bright light.
Redness and gritty feeling in the eye.
Intense itching (allergic conjunctivitis only).
The following symptoms may affect one or both eyes:
CAUSESViral infection. Conjunctivitis may accompany colds or childhood diseases such as measles.
Bacterial infection. Infants up to 3 days old can be infected with pinkeye from a gonococcus bacteria present in the mother's birth canal.
Chemical irritation or wind, dust, smoke, and other types of air pollution.
Allergies caused by cosmetics, pollen, or other allergens.
A partially closed tear duct.
Intense light, such as from sunlamps, snow reflection, or electric arcs in welding.
RISK FACTORSNewborns of mothers who are carriers of gonorrhea.
Crowded or unsanitary living conditions.
Exposure to others in public places.
PREVENTING COMPLICATIONS OR RECURRENCE
Your child should wash hands frequently with soap and warm water.
Your child should avoid exposure to eye irritants.
Newborns in hospital deliveries are routinely given antibiotic eye drops.
Your own observation of symptoms.
Medical history and physical exam by a doctor.
Laboratory culture of the discharge from your child's eye.
POSSIBLE COMPLICATIONSIf untreated, pinkeye may spread and damage the cornea, permanently impairing your child's vision.
PROBABLE OUTCOMEAllergic conjunctivitis can be cured if the allergen is removed. It is likely to recur.
Other forms are curable in 1 to 2 weeks with treatment.
Wash your child's hands often with antiseptic soap, and use paper towels to dry. Don't touch eyes. Gently wipe the discharge from your child's eye, using disposable tissues. Infections are frequently spread by contaminated fingers, towels, handkerchiefs, or wash cloths that have touched the infected eye.
Use warm-water soaks to reduce discomfort.
Your child should not use eye makeup.
MEDICATIONYour doctor may prescribe antibiotic eye drops, sulfa eye drops, steroid eye drops or antibiotic ointment to fight infection. Use 3 times daily. If the infection does not improve in 2 or 3 days, it may be caused by an insensitive bacteria, virus, or allergy. At this point, an ophthalmologist may need to culture the conjunctivae or make special studies to determine the cause of the conjunctivitis.
Most ophthalmologists believe steroid eyedrops should not be used until a diagnosis is definite. If the infection is caused by the herpes simplex virus, steroids may spread it from the conjunctiva to the cornea, damaging the eye.
See Medications section for information regarding medicines your doctor may prescribe.
Your child can resume normal activities as soon as symptoms improve.
DIET & FLUIDS
No special diet.
OK TO GO TO SCHOOL?When eye is no longer red or drains.
CALL YOUR DOCTOR IF
Your child has symptoms of conjunctivitis.
The infection does not improve in 48 hours, despite treatment.
Vision is affected.