conjunctivitis

All you need to know about conjunctivitis

Conjunctivitis, also known as pink eye, is a very common and treatable inflammation of the conjunctiva, the transparent membrane that lines the inside of the eyelids and the whites of the eyes. This inflammation can be caused by an infection, an allergen, or some other irritant.

Is it contagious?

It’s very contagious and infective conjunctivitis is most common among children and toddlers. This is believed to be because of infection being spread in heavily populated areas such as schools and daycare. Symptoms include a reddening and watering of the eyes, along with a sticky coating on the eyelashes, particularly when waking up in the morning. Common causes of infective conjunctivitis can be both bacterial, such as the bacteria that cause lung and ear infections, or viral, which may also result in a sore throat and a high temperature.

What can I do to treat it?

According to the HSE, antibiotics are not typically prescribed for infective conjunctivitis. However, there are a number of ways you can treat or manage infective conjunctivitis at home.

  • Lubricant eye drops can be purchased over the counter at pharmacies to ease any soreness or reduce stickiness in your little one’s eyes.
  • You can gently clean away any sticky substances from the eye area using cotton wool soaked in water.
  • You should encourage your child to wash their hands and to avoid touching or rubbing their infected eye(s) to stop the infection spreading.
  • It’s useful to separate your child’s towels, pillows and flannels to prevent the infection from lingering or spreading.
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Conjunctivitis can last from two days to sometimes as long as three weeks. According to the HSE, you don’t need to keep your child from school unless they’re feeling particularly unwell but check with the school first. If there are a number of cases of conjunctivitis at one school or nursery, you may be advised to keep your child away until their infection has cleared up.

To read about another childhood illness, meningitis, click here. 

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