We’ve all experienced that sensation of waking up with our eyes glued shut in the morning. Instantly, we realize it’s conjunctivitis. That gritty, agonizing sensation in the eye is a terrible way to start the day. The persistent redness and watering only make it worse throughout the day. As prevalent as conjunctivitis or pink eye may be, it is equally excruciating and truly bothersome. Witnessing your child struggle with pink eye or conjunctivitis can be distressing. While you may want to embrace them as they resist the urge to rub their eyes, hold on! That might not be the best course of action in this scenario.
Health Shots reached out to pediatrician Dr Neeraj Gupta, to comprehend what conjunctivitis is and how you can care for your children without letting the infection spread to you.
An insight into conjunctivitis
As per the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, children attending public schools in the US miss three million school days each year due to pink eye. Conjunctivitis is the inflammation of conjunctiva, the outermost transparent layer of eyes. It is also known as eye flu or pink eye. Red eyes, conjunctival swelling, itching, heaviness, irritation, and watering are common symptoms. Yellowish purulent discharge and associated fever often indicate a bacterial infection. Dr Gupta says, “The primary causes of conjunctivitis are infections (viruses and bacteria), allergy, and foreign bodies. Sometimes, autoimmune diseases can also cause these symptoms. Associated nasal symptoms (runny, itchy, or blocked nose) suggest allergic causes.”
Can conjunctivitis spread through visual contact?
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that most types of conjunctivitis can spread through hand-to-eye contact. It can also spread through contaminated objects. Viral conjunctivitis can spread through respiratory droplets. However, there is no evidence to support the spread of conjunctivitis through visual contact.
Home remedies for conjunctivitis
During acute symptoms, there are many pain-relieving medications that can be taken before consulting an eye specialist. While visiting the doctor for your children’s eye examination is advisable, there are also measures you can take at home to alleviate your child’s condition.
- Utilize a cool compress, especially for allergic or irritant-induced red eyes.
- Place a warm, damp washcloth over the eyes for a few minutes in case of suspected bacterial cause.
- Avoid eye contact.
- Frequently wash hands, particularly after administering eye medication.
- Reduce screen time and minimize eye strain.
- Use dim lighting and create a comfortable home environment.
- Ensure that the sick child gets adequate rest to facilitate recovery.
- Wear goggles or sunglasses when venturing outdoors.
- Seek expert guidance for appropriate long-term management of allergies.
- Address associated nasal or other symptoms properly.
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What to do when your child contracts conjunctivitis?
When conjunctivitis comes to mind, we immediately fret about how easily it can spread! Falling ill while caring for a sick child may not be the best approach, right? Besides instructing kids not to rub their eyes, there are several practical steps you can take to prevent contracting it.
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- Change pillowcases and sheets daily: Bacteria spreads easily through pillowcases and bed sheets. Changing them daily will help avoid contact with this bacteria.
- Use a fresh towel daily: Towels, especially face towels, come very close to our eyes, so changing them daily can prevent infection.
Wash hands frequently, especially after touching affected eyes: Whether you stop your kids from touching their eyes or administer eye drops to them, handwashing is crucial.
- Wash hands after handling personal items: While cleaning up, make sure to wash your hands after touching your kids’ personal items such as blankets and towels. Proper hand hygiene is essential. Young children often use these items to wipe their eyes or hands, potentially spreading the infection.
- Dispose of tissues properly: Wiping eye discharge is common in conjunctivitis. When using eye wipes, it’s important to dispose of them carefully.
- Avoid touching your face: Despite the urge, it’s vital to refrain from touching your face, particularly your eyes. This is the best and simplest way to prevent conjunctivitis from spreading from your child to you.