Tuesday, 22 July 2008

Conjunctivitis (red or pink eye)

We have all seen kids running around with bright red eyes that look sore and angry, hence the name red eye. If the whites of one or both of your child's eyes and the lower rim of their eyelids are red, chances are they have an infection called conjunctivitis, also known as pinkeye or red-eye, always get this checked out by a doctor before you use any treatment.

The infection occurs when a virus, some bacteria, an allergen, or some other substance inflames the transparent membrane covering the white of the eyes and the inside of the eyelids (the conjunctiva).
As your toddler's system tries to fight the infection, their eyes may water or become crusty. It's important that you treat the infection quickly, so its best to visit your G.P. as soon as you see the symptoms.

Types of conjunctivitis
There are three types of conjunctivitis, bacterial, viral and allergic, each is described below

  • Bacterial conjunctivitis - If bacterial conjunctivitis is the culprit, your doctor will prescribe antibiotic ointment or drops for you to use on your child's eyes for about seven days.
  • Viral conjunctivitis - Viral conjunctivitis usually clears up on its own in a week or so. Your doctor will advise you to keep the area clean by gently washing your toddler's eyes with warm water and rubbing away the dried discharge. If your child eyes haven't improved after two weeks, let your doctor know.

Warning: Bacterial and viral conjunctivitis are extremely contagious. To keep this kind of infection from spreading, you'll need to wash your hands after every contact with your child's eyes. Keep their towels, clothing, and bedding separate from yours, and wash these items regularly. The infection will continue to be contagious until the symptoms are gone, so if your toddler goes to a nursery, you'll need to keep him home until then.

  • Allergic conjunctivitis - Since allergic conjunctivitis is the result of your child's having been exposed to an irritating substance, you need to identify the allergen and try to keep them away from it. If your toddler's eyes are making them uncomfortable, you can soothe them with over-the-counter or prescription eye drops from your G.P. These drops are made especially for allergic conjunctivitis but always be careful to make sure that the medicine is suitable for your child.