Conjunctivitis ("red eye" or "pink eye") is common eye condition that affects children, especially under 5 years of age. It can either be caused by an infection or by an allergy. Infectious conjunctivitis is contagious and may spread to other household members. Allergic conjunctivitis is more common in children with allergies such as hay fever.
Symptoms of conjunctivitis include:
If your child has any of the following:
Go to the nearest Hospital Emergency (A&E) Department or phone 999
Please ring your GP surgery or call NHS 111 - dial 111
If none of the above features are present
Continue providing your child’s care at home. If you are still concerned about your child, call NHS 111 – dial 111
Sticky eye in a baby/blocked tear duct - no treatment required (green)
Peri-orbital cellulitis - needs same day review (amber)
Most cases of conjunctivitis in children are caused by an infection; your child may also have a runny nose, cough or earache.
most children with conjunctivitis do not need treatment with antibiotics - it takes the same amount of time to get better whether an antibiotic is used or not.
If your child has any features of severe infection (amber or red features above), they will need to be urgently seen by a healthcare professional who may decide that your child may benefit from antibiotic treatment. If your child is under 28 days of age and has a red eye(s) or large amounts of pus discharging from their eye(s), they need to be seen by a healthcare professional.
You can help relieve symptoms by gently cleaning the eye(s) with cotton balls soaked in warm water.
It can take up to 2 weeks for a child to fully recover from conjunctivitis . If your child is not improving after 2 weeks, you should take your child to see their GP.
Your child does not need to be excluded from school or childcare if they have conjunctivitis.
This guidance is written by healthcare professionals from across Hampshire, Dorset and the Isle of Wight.