The symptoms of pink eye in babies are dependent on the cause. The causes can range from bacterial and viral infection to eye injuries, allergies, and even STDs such as chlamydia passed on from the mother. This HealthHearty article provides more information about the causes and symptoms of pink eye in toddlers and babies.
Pink eye or conjunctivitis is a medical condition that refers to the swelling of the mucous membrane of the eyes and the inner lining of the eyelids (conjunctiva). This inflammation of the eyelids causes redness in the white part of the eyes and swelling of the eyelids. In a baby, pink eye is usually caused by bacterial and viral infections. However, an exposure to allergens like household chemicals, eye injuries, and blocked tear ducts may be the causative factor of pink eye symptoms in babies.
Causes and Symptoms
The symptoms of baby pink eye are often based on the cause of the disease. So the symptoms of a bacterial eye infection will differ quite significantly from an allergic reaction. Here is a look at some of the common causes of pink eye in babies.
Bacterial conjunctivitis: One of the most common causes is bacterial infection of the eyes. This is usually caused by the H. influenzae and S. pneumoniae bacterial strains. The symptoms include yellow green discharge along with burning and itching eyes. In this case, both the eyes are red, and the baby has a hard time adjusting to bright lights and would thus appear uncomfortable.
Viral conjunctivitis: Apart from bacterial infections, conjunctivitis may also be the result of viral infections in the eyes. Toddlers affected by viral eye infections have redness and itching in the eyes. This is accompanied by a white discharge. In certain cases, the viral infection may be accompanied by sore throat, cough, and a runny nose. This is caused by the adenovirus strain of viruses. Viral conjunctivitis can be accompanied by an enlarged lymph node.
Allergic conjunctivitis: Although rare in newborns and babies under the age of one, allergic reactions can also result in pink eye. The common allergens are dust, smoke, and pollen. The allergic symptoms include redness, tearing, and itching of the eyes. The allergen might also cause the chemosis or the white part of the eyes to swell up. The eyes will appear bloodshot and watery and the toddler may have a runny nose. Keep your baby away from cosmetics and household chemicals.
Injury to the eyes: Trauma or a foreign body in the eyes can cause symptoms such as redness and swelling. Corneal abrasion can happen when the child has hit the eye with something or if there is an irritant stuck in the eyes like sand particles. This usually causes redness, tearing, and pain in the affected eye.
Pink eye caused by bacteria and virus is contagious. Therefore, your child can get an infection by touching an infected person. Other causes include: blocked tear ducts in infants or reaction to certain medicinal eye drops. The existence of STDs such as gonorrhea or chlamydia, transmitted by the mother are some of the severe causes for the appearance of pink eye.
Depending on the cause, the doctor may recommend appropriate treatment for the redness and swelling. If caused by a virus, the symptoms usually clear up on their own in a week or two. Wash the baby’s eyes with warm water and soak away the dried discharge. Warm compresses are your best bet in case of a viral or bacterial conjunctivitis.
For a bacterial eye infection, an antibiotic ointment or drops may be prescribed. Before and after applying the ointment, wash your hands, and make sure that you keep the baby’s towels, clothing, and bedding are separated and washed regularly. Allergic conjunctivitis clears up when the allergen has been removed from the child’s environment.
While the symptoms do tend to clear up on their own, make sure that you take preventive measures to avoid it being spread. In case of an extreme swelling, persistent redness, and fever, it is best to consult a doctor for diagnosis and treatment of something more than a mild conjunctivitis in babies.
Disclaimer: This article is for informative purposes only, and should not be treated as a substitute for professional medical advice.