Conjunctivitis is an inflammation of the conjunctiva of the eye. The conjunctiva is the membrane that lines the inside of the eyelids and covers the eyeball. Conjunctivitis is also known as “pink eye” because the eye looks pink or red.
In children, the condition is often grouped into either newborn conjunctivitis or childhood conjunctivitis. There are different causes and treatments for each group.
Types of newborn conjunctivitis include:
Childhood conjunctivitis is a swelling of the conjunctiva and may also include an infection. It is a very common problem in children. Large outbreaks of conjunctivitis are often seen in daycare settings or schools. The most common causes of childhood conjunctivitis are:
If the condition is caused by an infection, it’s important to know that the infection can spread from one eye to the other by touching the affected eye or fluid from the eye. The infection can also spread to other people. Fluid from the eye is still contagious for 24 to 48 hours after starting treatment.
There are many different causes of conjunctivitis. The most common causes are:
A child who has had contact with any of the below are at risk for the condition:
Symptoms can occur a bit differently in each child. They can include:
The symptoms of conjunctivitis can be like other health conditions. Make sure your child sees his or her healthcare provider for a diagnosis.
Treatment will depend on your child’s symptoms, age, and general health. It will also depend on the cause of the condition, for example:
To help prevent spread of the infection, wash your hands often when caring for your child. Make sure your child doesn’t touch his or her eyes. Have your child wash his or her hands often.
Tips to help you get the most from a visit to your child’s healthcare provider: