Pool conjunctivitis: causes and treatment
Conjunctivitis is like love, it has no age. What it does have, in some of its variants, is time and date on the calendar as Simón Díaz said in that languid song of Caballo Viejo. A very chiringuito summer song casposo, of those compounds man orchestra and ham woman with lamé dress, unfortunately in danger of extinction (in danger of extinction I mean the chiringuitos casposos summertime, lamé dresses still have their audience among ham women and don’t jam).
But let’s leave the prawns and the brilli-brilli in the beach bar and return to conjunctivitis. The word conjunctivitis is a kind of “mess box” where a whole universe of eye conditions fits. Who has not looked in the mirror one morning and self-diagnosed conjunctivitis? And without consulting Dr. Google! Furthermore, in 99% of cases the “general” diagnosis will be correct, because conjunctivitis is inflammation of the conjunctiva, the transparent membrane that, among other things, envelops “the whites of the eyes.” When the conjunctiva becomes inflamed from different causes, symptoms such as tearing, redness, itching, foreign body sensation are produced… So where is the complication? what’s the trick? If it is conjunctivitis, why don’t we put on “eye drops” and that’s it?
n eye drop to rule them all (conjunctivitis)
I know that this does not happen to you, dear educated reader, but believe me if I tell you that there are many, but many fellow human beings of yours and of mine, who, at the first glimpse of red eye, their own or their descendants, come to the pharmacy requesting “an eye drop for conjunctivitis.” So, without further ado.
And you will be surprised to know that these people are outraged, angry and even make vicious threats when the “single eye drop” is explained to them, it has not yet been invented. What’s more, the unique eye drop is like Alfonso Armada, neither is there nor expected.
Types of conjunctivitis
The reason why self-diagnosis is not so easy and much less recommended is because there are three types of conjunctivitis in general and many subtypes of conjunctivitis in particular:
- Infectious conjunctivitis: The cause may be a virus, bacteria, or chlamydia. It will be necessary for a doctor to carry out the differential diagnosis and, based on this, determine the treatment (whether or not to use an antibiotic , corticosteroid , etc.) since what kills one bug can tickle another or even make him fat, which is worse .
* In case anyone doubts the importance of correct diagnosis and treatment, this Cochrane review indicates that in infectious conjunctivitis the use of antibiotic eye drops is desirable in order to accelerate resolution of symptoms and infection.
- Allergic conjunctivitis:They usually appear in spring-summer and their origin is an allergen that triggers the uncomfortable response. It can occur in isolation or come from a general symptomatology due to allergic rhinitis, asthma, etc. It is mainly treated with antihistamines topically (eye drops) or even orally.
- Irritant conjunctivitis: In this case there is no allergy or infection: what is usually is a swimming pool or a beach, an air conditioner that causes dryness, UV radiation, or a black smoke like that of Lost (due to tobacco or contamination) that attack our conjunctiva and leave it made a rag.
Why do we get red eyes in swimming pools?
I do not think that anyone can tear their clothes if I say that our beloved pools are still ponds, better or worse preserved, in which we soak communally without any kind of regard for the hygiene of others.
By this I mean that nobody assures us that our congener of the fifth apartment has showered in the last hours (maybe days, weeks …) or yes, I am going to say it, that at a certain moment said congener has not decided to relax his bladder remembering the dances at the beach bar while whistling whistling that of Simón Díaz and his Old Horse. Always with an eye on the lontananza. And if you have been graced with a fellow from the fifth-educated apartment, don’t relax either: your innocent 9-month-old baby will surely do the rest.
So that we did not have to suffer for it, chlorine or saline was invented and as a toll, we are left with swimming pool conjunctivitis: if chlorine is “so aggressive” as to kill vermin, we cannot claim that our delicate corneas tolerate it without plus.
What are its main symptoms?
The fish eye bothers. There is foreign body sensation, itching, burning and tearing . Perhaps the most striking feature is the ” red eye ” because the blood vessels supplying the conjunctiva react and dilate: what we commonly call “bloodshot eyes.” In this case there is no legume, neither yellow, nor green, nor the color of the rainbow, this being a differential factor with respect to infectious conjunctivitis.
What is the treatment of irritative conjunctivitis?
As there is no “guilty bug” to kill, antibiotics should not be used. Therefore, if the children get up from the pool with red eyes, please do not take hold of the Tobrex, Tobradex or Oftamowell (which by the way should not be at hand either since if they have been used previously they must be thrown month after opening).
If the discomfort is severe , the doctor may assess the prescription of various treatments, the most frequent being anti-inflammatory eye drops.
If the discomfort is slight , in most cases the sensation of dryness, itching and foreign body is alleviated by the application of artificial tears such as Systane or Hyabak . Grandmother’s remedies like “wash with chamomile” are not recommended since they can be a breeding ground for later infections. Chamomile fans can continue to be safe using single-dose solutions such as Camoftan or Optiben Irrited Eyes that contain chamomile in its composition.
Other recommended measures are to always wash the eye with specific cleaning wipes as we explained in the stye post .
And the vasoconstrictors? I want to have a white eye!
It is not advisable to use the famous adrenergic vasoconstrictors such as epinephrine, phenylephrine, nafazolin, oxymetazoline, tetrizoline (say I am talking about Vispring ).
– Why? If they work!
These eye drops compress the blood capillaries achieving the desired effect (eliminate the “red” and favor the “white”) but can trigger a rebound effect if used repeatedly for more than three days ( Mayo Clinic dixit ). They don’t address the cause, they only patch it with some risk if we don’t know how to put the brakes on time. Mind you, this does not mean that they cannot be useful if we unexpectedly have to go out on TV or go to work after a night out. And I am not saying this from my own experience.
Besides irritative conjunctivitis, can you catch a bug in the pool?
As we have commented, if the maintenance of the pool is correct, the chlorine is in charge of keeping bacteria and viruses at bay, however, when asked , can I bathe in the pool with conjunctivitis? two aspects must be taken into account:
- If you suffer from irritative conjunctivitis,our “defense layer” is diminished, so the chances of catching an infectious conjunctivitis are greater, either in or out of the water. Precautions must be taken and diving goggles must be used.
- If you suffer from infectious conjunctivitis, the chlorine does not help facilitate recovery, so in the case of going to the pool you should also use diving glasses and in any case we will be minimizing the risk of contagion. Be careful with diving goggles, which must be for personal use and not transferable at the risk of making bread like cakes. And also be careful with towels, games and toys since infectious conjunctivitis is highly contagious.
The Apothecary’s advice
The red eye is a barking dog, but is generally not a biter. Although it is very scandalous, let’s not be alarmed if in this summer time, any given night, we look up from the gazpacho on the terrace of the apartment and our son has mutated into Cyclops, the X-Men. Usually nobody loses their eye for a vacation in Torrevieja.
If last week we talked about how to choose the right sunglasses and why it is not convenient to buy them in the Chinese , the time has come to put the diving goggles on the site. The seabed is fascinating (that of the pools a little less but meh!) And therefore we must convince the little ones that they will see it much more clearly if they use diving glasses. Incidentally, if (and we) save them a conjunctivitis, better than better.