With a little knowledge, you’ll be equipped to recognise the symptoms and know how to make it all better
How to spot conjunctivitus
What is it?
Conjunctivitis is a common eye infection typical in children under five years old. It occurs when the conjunctiva, which is an invisible protective sheet over the front of the eye and inner eyelids, becomes swollen.
What are the symptoms?
The signs of conjunctivitis can be quite varied depending on the initial cause; however Paediatrician Dr Scott Dunlop says that both eyes are often affected. “Generally, the eyes and inner eyelids become red and inflamed. There can be a pus-like discharge causing crusting and stickiness of the eyes, or no discharge at all,” he says. “The eyes can be painful or itchy, especially if there is an allergic component to the inflammation.”
How do you get it?
You can contract conjunctivitis a number of ways. It can be transmitted bacterially, through a virus or be a result of an allergic reaction to something your child encounters. A virus is the most common cause of conjunctivitis in young children.
What can you do?
In most cases, viral conjunctivitis will simply heal itself after you cleanse the outside of the eye with warm water or a wipe. However, there are some treatment options for those who have contracted conjunctivitis through a bacterial infection or through an allergic reaction. “Bacterial infections may require antibiotic drops, whilst allergic irritation often responds to antihistamines,” says Scott.
When to see your GP?
If you notice any blurring of vision or severe eye pain, consult your GP as soon as possible. “As with any illness, if there are concerns regarding the overall appearance of your child, then seek GP review,” says Scott. If your child is suffering from viral conjunctivitis and you haven’t seen an improvement after a few days of treatment, don’t hesitate to take your little one back to the doctor for a check-up.