|Conjunctivitis, or pinkeye, is inflammation of the membrane that covers your eyes and lines the inside of your eyelids. It is commonly caused by viruses or bacteria, and is highly contagious. Your child will typically develop conjunctivitis two to seven days after getting these common germs on their hands and then rubbing them into their eyes. Conjunctivitis can also be caused by having a foreign body in your eye or having an allergic reaction.
Symptoms of conjunctivitis usually consist of having pink or red eyes that have a discharge or matting. If the conjunctivitis is caused by a bacteria, the discharge will be thick and yellow or green and may cause your child's eyes to be matted shut. When wiped away with a warm cloth, the matting will usually return within a few hours. This type of infection responds very well to antibiotic eye drops and your child will no longer be contagious after being on antibiotics for twenty-four hours. However, you should continue the antibiotics for at least two days after the symptoms have cleared up.
With a viral infection, the discharge will usually be clear and watery. Unfortunately there is no treatment to cure this type of infection and your child is contagious as long as he has discharge.
OTC anti-inflammatory medicines can help with the redness and itchiness of conjunctivitis no matter what the cause and can be safely used in older children.