Treating Conjunctivitis in Children

While conjunctivitis can appear in adults, it is most common in children. Normally children are affected by a mild case of conjunctivitis that occurs when the conjunctiva has been exposed to a virus, bacteria, an irritant or allergen. Conjunctivitis can occur in children of any age including newborns. Newborns generally get conjunctivitis through bacteria that are acquired while in the birth canal. All newborns have their eyes treated with antibiotic drops or topical ointments as soon as they are born to prevent conjunctivitis. However, the drop and ointment can cause allergic reactions in some infants that can cause allergic conjunctivitis to occur.

Older children commonly contract the viral version of conjunctivitis due to several possible viral infections but most often the adeno or entero virus causes it. Viral conjunctivitis can also have cold symptoms that come along with it. Children can still get Bacterial conjunctivitis that is usually caused by Staph or strep bacteria as well as phneumococcus and H flu bacteria. More often than not, children will also have an ear infection along with the bacterial conjunctivitis. If a child has pre-existing allergies then they are more susceptible to allergic conjunctivitis because their allergies will set off the inflammation of the conjunctiva. Irritants such as smog, smoke, or chemicals, can also cause conjunctivitis in any child if their eyes are exposed to them. Redness is the most common conjunctivitis symptom and the reason why it is also called pink eye. Also there will be itching and irritation. All the various types of conjunctivitis have discharge.

Allergic conjunctivitis discharge is usually clear and is in the form of excessive tearing. Viral conjunctivitis will also have this excessive tearing but will also have thin yellow or green mucus-like discharge. Bacterial conjunctivitis will have a thicker discharge. Most conjunctivitis cases will clear up on their own, especially if they are due to allergies, irritants or viruses. Eye drops and ointments can be obtained by prescription and over the counter to help alleviate some of the symptoms while waiting for it to clear up. If it is a bacterial infection then prescription eye drops and ointments with antibiotics will be needed to kill the bacteria. Also to help ease the suffering from the symptoms, cold and warm compresses, as well as eye washing, can be done every couple of hours. Just be sure to throw out or wash right away any washcloths or other materials used because they can be very contagious.

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