07.02 Conjunctivitis

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Pink Eye Conjunctivitis (Image)
Pink Eye Conjunctivitis (Image)
Conjunctivitis Pathochart (Cheat Sheet)

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Hey guys, in this lesson we are going to be talking about conjunctivitis or what it’s more commonly known as “Pink eye”

Conjunctivitis is when the conjunctiva becomes inflamed. Just as a refresher the conjunctiva is the clear tissue that covers the inner surface of the eyelid as well as the sclera (which is the white part of the eye). So you can see in this photo here, the white portion of the eye is red and inflamed. Conjunctivitis is super contagious and most of the time it’s caused by a virus, but it can also be caused by bacteria and allergies.

It’s really important to be on the lookout for this in newborns because they can be exposed to things like gonorrhea, herpes and chlamydia during delivery, so they would need prompt treatment with antibiotics.

Generally, someone with conjunctivitis is going to have a pink or red eye. They have some itching, burning and increased tears. A few specifics to note about conjunctivitis that may help make the distinction between the different causes. So with bacterial conjunctivitis you are probably going to see purulent drainage or pus coming from the eyes. A lot of times these kids will wake up with their eyes completely crusted over. Intense itching is associated with allergic conjunctivitis and watery discharge versus the pus you see in bacterial is associated with a viral cause. If only one eyes is affected the cause could be a foreign body.

Treatment is pretty basic. You want to teach families how to clean the eye without spreading the infection. So they should sweep the secretions down and out, away from the eye. If the cause is bacterial the kid will need antibiotics, either drops or ointments. These should be applied after cleaning the eye. Usually ointments are only applied before bed because they can blur the child’s vision.

Then it’s really important to educate families on how to prevent the infection from spreading. It’s spread via contact so hand hygiene is the most important thing! Families need to avoid sharing linens and the child should stay away from public environments until they’ve been on antibiotics for 24 hours.

Okay so based on what we know about conjunctivitis your nursing priorities are going to be infection control and comfort. So we’re making sure the infection doesn’t spread throughout the family or even in a school with our patient education and then making sure they know how to keep the eye clean for comfort.
Alright, let’s go over your key points for this lesson! Conjunctivitis is when the conjunctiva gets inflamed and it’s usually referred to as “Pink eye”! It’s very very contagious so we have to make sure to teach about handwashing and avoiding sharing linens to keep it from spreading like wildfire. It’s treated with antibiotics if we think it’s being caused by bacteria, but viral and allergic conjunctivitis treatment is really just supportive until it resolves on its own.

That's it for our lesson on Care of the Pediatric Patient. Make sure you check out all the resources attached to this lesson. Now, go out and be your best self today. Happy Nursing!
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