May also be called: Pinkeye
Conjunctivitis is an inflammation of the conjunctiva, the tissue covering the white part of the eye and the inner surface of the eyelid. Conjunctivitis is also called pinkeye because it usually makes the eyes extremely red.
Conjunctivitis can be caused by many of the bacteria and viruses responsible for colds and other infections; allergies; or a substance in the environment that can irritate eyes. Cases of pinkeye that are caused by bacteria and viruses are contagious; cases caused by allergies or environmental irritants are not.
Doctors usually recommend keeping kids diagnosed with contagious conjunctivitis out of school, childcare, or summer camp for a short time.
Pinkeye is a fairly common condition and usually causes no long-term eye or vision damage. Still, if your child shows symptoms of pinkeye, it's important to see a doctor. Newborns are particularly susceptible to pinkeye and can be more prone to serious health complications if it goes untreated.
To prevent pinkeye caused by bacteria and viruses, teach kids to wash their hands often with warm water and soap. They also should not share eye drops, tissues, eye makeup, washcloths, towels, or pillowcases with other people.
All A to Z dictionary entries are regularly reviewed by KidsHealth medical experts.
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