What is Conjunctivitis (Pink Eye)?
Conjunctivitis is an inflammation of the thin, transparent outer layer of the eyeball and the inner surface of the eyelids.
How is Conjunctivitis (Pink Eye) spread?
Conjunctivitis (pink eye) spread by direct contact with discharge from the eye or nasal discharge from the infected person.
If you suspect conjunctivitis, please keep your child at home and contact your primary care provider. Only a physician can determine if the conjunctivitis is infectious or not. Children with infectious conjunctivitis are considered contagious until 24 hours after treatment is began and must be excluded from school until then.
What are the symptoms?
The inflammation causes redness, tearing, burning or itching, and occasionally formation of pus that may cause the eyelids to stick together when the child awakens in the morning. Because of the redness, it is commonly called pink eye. The most common causes are bacteria, viruses and allergy. The first two are quite contagious.
How is Conjunctivitis (Pink Eye) treated?
Treatment of conjunctivitis depends on the cause. Treatments can range from simply keeping the eye clean and free from foreign objects in the case if irritant caused conjunctivitis to eye drops, ointments or other antibiotics when caused by bacteria. Proper diagnosis of the cause of conjunctivitis by your primary care provider is necessary to determine the appropriate treatment.
How can Conjunctivitis (Pink Eye) be prevented?
Conjunctivitis is highly contagious. Careful hand washing is our best defense in preventing the spread of conjunctivitis. Towels and other objects used by the child should not be shared with others. Eye make-up and contact lenses should not be worn while the eyes are inflamed. Any eye make-up or contact lenses used prior to treatment should be discarded.
How Serious is Conjunctivitis (Pink Eye)?
Conjunctivitis is a self-limited disease that is not a serious health risk if diagnosed quickly. It will usually clear up after a course of antibiotics or on its own. There are, however, certain forms of conjunctivitis that can become serious and sight-threatening. Consulting you primary care provider can help ensure appropriate treatment.
Where can you get more information?
Your school Health Office, family doctor and the staff at your local health department are excellent sources for information on all communicable diseases.
Parents of students with communicable diseases are asked to telephone the school Health Office so that other students who have been exposed to the disease can be alerted. Students with communicable diseases are not allowed to come to school while they are contagious.