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Conjunctivitis and your Child

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 What is Conjunctivitis?



Conjunctivitis is an eye condition where the conjunctiva (the clear membrane that covers the white part of the eye and lines the inner surface of the eyelid) becomes inflamed (Richards, Guzman-Cottrill, 2010). The inflammation can have many causes – the most common are infection, allergy and irritation (National Health and Medical Research Council, 2012).


There are different types of conjunctivitis including:


Infectious Conjunctivitis – caused by bacteria or viruses

Allergic Conjunctivitis – common in people with allergic reactions like hay fever

Irritant Conjunctivitis – caused by chemicals such as chlorine or chemical sin soaps.


There are different symptoms depending on the type of conjunctivitis your child has. One of the most common symptoms is discomfort or pain in the eye which may feel gritty. Many children have red eyes and swollen eyelids, and can be sensitive to bright lights (National Health and Medical Research Council, 2012).


Conjunctivitis can also cause a white discharge from  the eye. In bacteria conjunctivitis the discharge can be thick and may cause the eye to stick together when your child wakes in the morning.


How is Conjunctivitis spread?


Conjunctivitis can be spread by direct contact with eye secretions, or by contact with towels or tissues. It can sometimes also be spread by insects such as flies, when they fly from one infected child’s eye to another child’s eye (Richards, Guzman-Cottrill, 2010).


Incubation Period


The incubation period is usually 1-3 days.




Infectious Period


Viral and bacterial conjunctivitis are infectious while there is a discharge from the eye. Conjunctivitis caused by irritants like chemicals or allergies are not infectious (National Health and Medical Research Council, 2012).




The most common treatment option for conjunctivitis is eye drops or ointments prescribed by a doctor. It is important that you clean your child’s eye regularly with warm water. Do not clean inside the eyelids as this may cause damage to the conjunctiva or the cornea (National Health and Medical Research Council, 2012).







National Health and Medical Research Council (2012). Staying Healthy: Preventing diseases in early childhood education and care services 5th Edn. NHMRC, Canberra.


Richards A, Guzman-Cottrill JA (May 2010). "Conjunctivitis". Pediatric Review 31 (5): 196–208.

Read 2846 times Last modified on Friday, 07 March 2014 03:54

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