Conjunctivitis is probably the most common eye ailment, especially among children below the age of five. Often referred as pink eye, this condition is characterized by inflammation of conjunctiva, the outermost covering of eye and inner side of eyelids. Conjunctivitis is either caused due to allergy or an infection. Allergic conjunctivitis can occur as a result of allergy to dust, animal dander, pollen, smoke etc.
Infectious conjunctivitis is either bacterial or viral in origin. It spreads to other eye when one eye is infected. Viruses which are responsible for cold and rhinitis can cause conjunctivitis.In some cases chemical substances present in soaps or fumes can irritate the conjunctiva.
Gonorrheal conjunctivitis may be acquired from mother during birth and become evident around the third day of life or it may be acquired after birth. Acute conjunctivitis is common complication after measles. Conjunctivitis in majority of cases is acute, and it resolves over a period of time.
Symptoms And Signs Of Pink Eye In Children
- In infective conjunctivitis there is a characteristic sticky discharge from the eyes causing gluey eye.
- The discharge from the eye tends to be watery if conjunctivitis has developed due to allergy. The discharge is purulent if bacterial infection is suspected.
- The eyes may swell a lot and appear closed in case of allergy.
- Itchiness is however persistent in both the cases. Children tend to scratch eyes and eyes may swell.
- There is abnormal scratchy feeling in the eye. The child may feel as if there is sand in his eye.
- The eyelids stick together when the child wakes up in morning.
- Crusts develop on the border of eyelids.
- In allergic conjunctivitis there are other associated symptoms of allergy such as running nose, sneezing, itching in nose. The eye is more itchy and watery.
- Both eyes are affected in bacterial and viral conjunctivitis, although in the beginning only one eye is affected. The infection from one eye spreads to other eye.
Treatment For Conjunctivitis In Children
- Eyes should be bathed with warm salty water. Consult the doctor if the eye remains sticky.
- Infective conjunctivitis can spread easily. So the child should be kept at home till infection clears.
- The infected children should not share their towel and nurseries.
- Anti-histamines drops are beneficial in the treatment of allergic conjunctivitis.
- Children hate having drops or ointment in their eyes. It is better to take the help of another adult. One person can cuddle the child, while the other gently turns the lower eyelid down and squeezes either drops or ointment inside the lower eyelid. Do not worry if a lot of the dose has come out of the eyes. Enough will stay on.
- Conjunctivitis due to viral infection may heal without treatment after few days. However, if bacterial infection is suspected, antibiotic eye drops are usually prescribed. Use of antibiotic drops will hasten healing and eradicate the organisms within few days of treatment. Till conjunctivitis is completely cured, child should stay at home.
- Do not attempt to clean the eyes from inside as it may damage the conjunctiva.
- If the child is wearing contact lenses, he should avoid wearing it till the condition has healed completely.