Conjunctivitis is inflammation of the mucus membrane which covers the white portion of the eye and the inner side of the eye. This membrane is called conjunctiva. Conjunctivitis generally starts from one eye and affects both the eyes ultimately. This may take a day or so, however the effect in one eye may be more than the other. This causes lot of discomfort and irritation but the condition is not serious.
There are generally five types of Conjunctivitis or pink eye in children. Different infections shows little different symptoms.
Bacterial Conjunctivitis is caused by different bacteria. The bacteria can come from the skin or respiratory track of the patient himself, or may be transmitted from someone else. When a person gets infected there will be a gritty feeling in eyes, irritation and thick sticky discharge will come from eyes. The eyelids may get stuck due to the discharge.
Viral Conjunctivitis is generally associated with common cold. The cause of viral Conjunctivitis is a bacterium called adenovirus. Viral Conjunctivitis spreads very rapidly from person to person and may cause epidemic. The eyes of the person suffering from this state are red and there is watery discharge from the eyes. There is lot of discomfort and there is feeling as if the child has contracted cold. The lymph nodes around eyes and throat may get swollen.
Allergic Conjunctivitis is common with the persons who are allergic to something or the other. This is generally caused by the allergic reaction of pollen, cosmetics or dust. In this type of Conjunctivitis there is lot of itching in eyes. This problem generally occurs during spring or summer season when there is lot of pollen in the air.
Calamydial Conjunctivitis is caused by calamydia organism. This organism not only affects the eyes but also other organs of the body and can cause sexually transmitted infection.
The last type being Reactive Conjunctivitis, this may be a cause of reaction of some chemicals found in water and a swimmer may contract it while swimming. Smoke may also cause this state. If a person gets infected due to any of these reasons, these should be avoided in future.
Children have poor immune system and have more chances of infection and the Conjunctivitis so contracted is more severe. The infection may be contacted by the baby while passing through the birth canal of the mother if she has sexually transmitted infection. The drainage system of the eyes of babies is not fully developed as such discharge is much more in their case. There should be no cause of concern as the child will recover fully in a few days and no treatment may be prescribed.
Treatment for Conjunctivitis in children
Treatment of different forms of Conjunctivitis mentioned above differs for each type.
- Bacterial conjunctivitis is treated using antibiotic drops. Since there is lot of sticky discharge the eyes should be cleaned regularly using clean cotton ball dipped in cooled boiled water. It takes about 5 days to clear the problem totally. Medicines or drops may not be helpful in hastening the recovery process.
- There is no specific medicine for treatment of viral conjunctivitis. To provide relief to the patient some lubricating ointment may be put in the eyes. Cold water cotton balls may be placed on the eyes and some anti inflammatory drug may be given to reduce the impact. This being highly contagious, other people should take maximum possible precautions. No clothes should be shared and the child should be kept away from school.
Infants should be treated with full care. A visit to the ophthalmologist should be arranged immediately when there is a doubt about the child contracting conjunctivitis. The doctor will take samples of the discharge and ascertain the nature of problem and thereafter medicines will be prescribed for the kid.
If conjunctivitis is recurrent in infants, it must be taken seriously and checked by the eye specialist as soon as possible.
To avoid conjunctivitis, the hands should be kept clean. If someone in the house hold is infected, his clothes should be washed separately from others and under no circumstances his towel should be shared. Lukewarm salt water may be used to clean the eyes using a clean cotton ball. Instead of using hanky, use disposable tissue which should be thrown away after use. Never throw these tissues in the open after use. Do not share eye drops being used by patient. This way it will be possible for the other members in house hold to be saved.