Conjunctivitis is a acute condition characterized by redness of the eye(s). There can be many causes, not all of which are communicable. The cause may be a bacterium, virus, foreign body, or an allergy. It is important to differentiate an eye allergy from a infectious condition. An allergy which causes redness of the eye is usually accompanied by itching and watery eyes as well as other signs of allergies such as a runny nose or headache, If there is any questions as to cause, refer to a physician for evaluation.
A clinical syndrome beginning with tearing, irritation, and hyperemia of the conjunctivae of one or both eyes. This may be followed by swelling of the lids, photophobia, and a mucopurulent discharge.
From 24-72 hours (bacterial).
From 12 hours to 3 days (viral).
PERIOD OF COMMUNICABILITY:
During the course of the active infection.
Contract with discharge of conjunctivae or upper respiratory tract of infected person. Indirectly through contact with contaminated fingers, clothing, eye makeup applicators, etc.
CONTROL OF SPREAD:
Personal hygiene, good hand washing, and avoidance of rubbing of the infected eye(s) helps to control spread.
Exclude the child from school until adequately treated or eye(s) clear. For a bacterial infection, the physician may prescribe an eye ointment which varies according to infecting organism. Viral conjunctivitis requires exclusion from school until the eye clears; which usually occurs in 2 to 3 days. There is no available medication treatment for viral eye infections.
Conjunctivitis may be confused with an eye allergy. With conjunctivitis, there is usually eye discomfort or pain; an allergy is more likely to itch and have watery eyes. Do not self-medicate eye conditions. A physician should be consulted for cases of eye discomfort.