Conjunctivitis: symptoms, contagious, duration, treatment

Conjunctivitis is a viral, allergic, or bacterial inflammation of the conjunctiva, the membrane that covers the eyeball (eye), and the inside of the eyelid. What are the symptoms? The treatment? Dealing with eye drops? Is it contagious? How much time? Recognize and treat conjunctivitis.

conjunctivitis is inflammation of the conjunctiva, the membrane that covers the white of the eye (eyeball) and the inside of the eyelid. She can be viral, bacterialconsecutive to an allergy… How to recognize conjunctivitis? Which are symptoms ? The right treatments? The best eye drops ? How to cure it quickly? Which is the duration ? Is it contagious? Answers.

Definition: What is conjunctivitis?

Conjunctivitis is an inflammation or irritation of the conjunctiva of the eye, that is, the membrane that covers the white of the eye and the lower part of the eyelids. It can be original viral, bacterial, allergic On irritating (contact with a toxic product or traumatic shock).

If it is caused by a virus, conjunctivitis is contagious for 1 to 2 weeks.

Is conjunctivitis contagious?

Bacterial and viral conjunctivitis are highly contagious and easily transmitted through infected tear secretions or contaminated objects. The infection is also caused by pool water or coughing and sneezing. If it is caused by a virus, conjunctivitis is contagious for 1-2 weeks. On the other hand, bacterial conjunctivitis quickly becomes less contagious from the moment treatment begins.

Diagram of conjunctivitis © joshya –’s Journal

What are the symptoms of viral or bacterial conjunctivitis?

In the case of infectious conjunctivitis (caused by bacteria or viruses):

  • The eyes are red and watery
  • The feeling of having “sand in the eyes”
  • Burning sensations
  • Pica
  • A purulent discharge (pus in the eye)
  • The eyelids are sometimes “stuck”, especially in the morning when you wake up.
conjunctivitis eyes bacterial viral allergy
Types of conjunctivitis (allergic, viral, bacterial) © 123RF-images

What are the symptoms of allergic conjunctivitis?

Allergic conjunctivitis usually occurs seasonally or during contact with the allergen (cat hair, dog hair, dust, pollen, herbs, food, etc.) and is characterized by:

  • red eyes
  • Crying eyes
  • Itching in the eyes.
  • Photophobia: Light and sun can sometimes bother allergy sufferers
  • Allergic rhinitis with episodes of cough, eczema, recurrent bronchitis or asthma.

What are the symptoms of toxic conjunctivitis?

Toxic conjunctivitis, due to exposure to a toxic product such as fumes or chemicals, and traumatic conjunctivitis (after a stroke for example), are also characterized by:

  • A redness
  • tears.
  • Sometimes a decrease in visual acuity, which should lead to an emergency assessment by an ophthalmologist.

What is giant papillary conjunctivitis?

This form of conjunctivitis, which is not really allergic in origin, is mainly caused by irritation of the eye surface in contact with lensescertain ophthalmic products or eye prostheses.

What are the causes of conjunctivitis?

Conjunctivitis can have several origins:

  • Bacterial conjunctivitis: caused by staphylococcus, streptococcus or pneumococcus.
  • Viral conjunctivitis: caused by adenovirus (benign virus), herpes, measles or chickenpox.
  • Allergic conjunctivitis: caused by allergens such as cat saliva and urine, dust mites, pollen, mold, latex, certain foods or cleaning products, for example.
  • Traumatic conjunctivitis: caused by a foreign body or a shock, for example.
  • Toxic conjunctivitis: in case of contact with chemicals or smoke (with significant risk of keratitis in case of vision loss).

How long does conjunctivitis last?

On average, conjunctivitis lasts one to two weeks.

When and who to consult in case of conjunctivitis?

From the first symptoms, it is essential consult your doctor On an ophthalmologist. Conjunctivitis is a mild illness if treated quickly.

A eye examination it is sometimes necessary to assess the severity of conjunctivitis. Ophthalmologic assessment is also helpful for the ophthalmologist to prescribe the appropriate eye drops depending on the cause and check that there is no damage to the cornea.

What is the treatment for conjunctivitis?

Although healing is most often spontaneous, it is advisable to consult a doctor who will prescribe the appropriate treatment for the many possible causes.

► First, eye wash several times a day, using a sterile compress soaked in saline, it is recommended to dilute pus and germs, relieve discomfort and strengthen the action of the treatment. To remove the eyes, a cotton swab soaked in sterile water is usually enough. Because infectious conjunctivitis is highly contagious, care must be taken to wash your hands thoroughly before and after touching the infected eye, not to touch the healthy eye after touching the infected eye, and to separate the clothing you use. the patient of the other. household members. It is also recommended to avoid the use of corrective lenses during treatment.

Antibiotics are only useful in case of bacterial conjunctivitis.

► Eye drops, ointments : then a treatment is proposed according to the cause. Antibiotics are only useful in case of bacterial conjunctivitis. However, your doctor may still prescribe it. in the form of eye drops or ointments for 7-10 days. Viral conjunctivitis is treated by regular use of antiseptic eye drops for a few days. An eye-shaped antihistamine for eye drops is most often prescribed for allergic conjunctivitis in addition to an allergic assessment. In case of traumatic or toxic conjunctivitis, it is necessary to consult with an ophthalmologist.

What are the natural remedies to treat conjunctivitis?

  • Avoid mowing the lawn yourself when there is pollen in the air
  • Gardening with glasses and a protective mask
  • Introduce air into your car when traveling during the pollen-rich season
  • Avoid contact with pets, especially cats, but also carpets and rugs
  • Avoid tobacco smoke and clean your interior regularly reduce allergens in the homeno.

For eyes and eyelids, use makeup and lens care products that are as allergenic as possible. Do not reuse an irritated product and apply artificial tears to reduce eye irritation in case of dryness.

To prevent the transmission of viral or bacterial conjunctivitis, remember to wash your hands before touching your eyes (to put on contact lenses, for example). Also avoid putting your fingers in your eyes. or rub your eyelids and possibly throw away eye makeup, if you used it just before the onset of conjunctivitis. It may have been contaminated if the conjunctivitis was infectious.

What are the risks of complications from conjunctivitis?

• Kerato-conjunctivitis

Conjunctivitis can get worse and go hand in hand corneal damage, the term keratoconjunctivitis is then evoked. Keratitis is the damage to the cornea that causes it a decrease in vision as well as violent pains aggravated by light. Keratitis requires as soon an eye consultation as possible complicated by blurred vision. Keratoconjunctivitis associates keratitis with conjunctivitis. It occurs mainly during the spring or summer period, caused by an allergy to pollen, in this case it is vernal keratoconjunctivitis that most often affects young boys and disappears spontaneously in 90% of cases in adolescence. . This keratoconjunctivitis can be complicated, for example, by a corneal ulcer or a decrease in visual acuity. Keratoconjunctivitis can also be seen outside the pollen period.

• Blephar conjunctivitis

Allergic blepharoconjunctivitis associates allergic blepharitis with allergic conjunctivitis. It causes inflammation of the skin of the eyelids. Blepharoconjunctivitis is often complicated staphylococcal infection, herpes, or sometimes cataracts or visual disturbances.

Doctor’s advice

“Be especially careful if you wear contact lenses that can be a source of conjunctivitis or irritation if they are not maintained well and in certain risk situations (dirty and dusty work environment, in case of allergy or if the inflammation is accompanied of intense pain and / or loss of visual acuity, it is essential to consult a doctor quickly ” advises Dr. Claire Lewandowski, a general practitioner.

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