Pink Eyes in Babies – Causes, Symptoms, Treatment

Pink Eyes in Babies - Causes Symptoms Treatment

Pink eye or redness of the eye of your baby is certainly one of the things most parents worry about. However redness of the eye is a very common condition and almost every newborn gets this. So parents don’t worry you will get through this easily.  

What is pink eye? 

Pink eye or conjunctivitis happens when the conjunctiva which is the lining of the eye gets inflamed or infected. The condition is usually mild and subsides on its own. However in certain cases, it can turn out to be quite serious and they will require treatment.  

Causes of pink eyes in babies: 

There can be various reasons for getting redness of the eye. It could be due to a  

  • Blocked tear duct 
  • Irritant material 
  • Infection 
  • Certain organisms like  Chlamydia 
  • Gonococcal infection, HPV infection 
  • Seasonal allergy to pollen, to animal fur 

What are the flag signs for Pink Eyes in Babies? 

Generally redness of the eye may not be the first symptom. The baby may also show other signs before the redness begins.  So as parents we always need to look for these signs  

  • Puffiness of the eyelids 
  • Watering from the eyes 
  • Redness of the eye lids and surrounding area 
  • Crusting or a stringy discharge in the eyes 
  • Frequent rubbing of the eyes. 
  • The child might be more cranky or crying or sleeping more than usual 
  • The baby might be less active , lethargic 
  • Refusing to feed or decreased appetite 
  • Alteration in the bowel movements- diarrhea or constipation, 
  • Running nose 

Symptoms of Pink Eyes

Each baby may show different kind of symptoms. For some it might be very mild, present only during certain times of the day while for others it may be present throughout the day. 

Let me tell you the different symptoms which most babies develop: 

  • Swelling of the eyelids 
  • Increased itching of the eye 
  • Increased blinking of the eye 
  • Increased sensitivity to light 
  • A clear, white or yellowish discharge/fluid frequently coming out of the eye 
  • Crusting of the eyelashes’ 
  • Sticking and matting of the eyelids on waking up 

Is it mandatory to consult a doctor for Pink Eyes in Babies? 

Well being a doctor myself I can tell you pink eye in toddlers is usually mild and goes away in a day or two without treatment.  

But said that if the redness still persists beyond a week it is mandatory to consult an ophthalmologist and start treatment. Always consult a doctor before you start any medication. Never buy medications over the counter for your toddler. Not getting the right treatment can also damage the baby’s eye  and lead to various other complications.  

What can you as a parent do for Pink Eyes in Babies?  

  • In some cases pink eye can spread not only from one eye to another eye but also from one person to another person. As a parent make sure you wash your hands frequently and also wash your babies hand with warm water and soap.  
  • Avoid touching your face and eye. When it comes to your baby it might be difficult for the baby to keep their hands away from their face so in such cases putting the mittens on will help.  
  • Try as much as possible to distract the toddler with toys, music and keep them engaged. 
  • At home make sure you remove the crusting from the eye lashes and those around the eye frequently. This will not treat pink eye but will certainly reduce the pain and discomfort and will help to open up the blocked tear ducts. You can do this by dipping a sterile cloth in  luke warm water , squeezing out the excess water and gently wiping it over the babies closed eye lids.  
  • However if you have noticed that your little one gets red eye quite frequently then make sure you check your laundry detergent , shampoo, soap . Some chemicals are quite strong and can cause increased sensitivity and trigger reactions in the eye. It is also advisable to use natural cleansers and baby friendly soaps and detergents .  

Treatment for Pink Eyes in Babies

The treatment for pink eye again depends on the cause and the duration. If the cause of the redness of the eye is due to a bacterial infection then the baby needs to be started on an antibiotic eye drop. But start it only after consulting your doctor. 

 However if it is due to a viral infection, antibiotics will not help. Pink eye from a viral infection usually heals on its own in 1 to 2 weeks. And pink eye due to an allergen or irritant goes away as soon as the allergen or triggering factor is cut off.  

Take home message: 

A pink eye in new born is common. It is usually mild and go way without any medications.  But at times it can get serious and treatment is needed to clear up the infection.  Always check with your doctor before you start on any treatment for your little one. 

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