Eye Infections in Babies: Causes, Symptoms and Treatment

“In the eyes of the child… there is a joy, there is laughter… there is hope, there is trust, a chance to shape future…”

And seeing such beautiful eyes leaking or being goopy is never a pleasant sight. It is one of the most distressing and startling feelings for the parents. Those crusty, red or gunky eyes could be due to pink eye, eye infection or a blocked tear duct. So to help the parents from flipping out, here are the types, symptoms, and treatments for eye infections in babies.


1. Pinkeye/Conjunctivitis

· Causes: An allergen (such as smoke, dust or pollen) irritating the membrane of the eye whites and inside of the eyelids. Other causes could be virus or bacteria.

· Symptoms: Red eye whites or red lower rims of either of the eyes. Tired looking and teary eyes. Swollen eye lids with thick sticky yellow discharge.

· Treatment: Cleaning the affected eye with a warm, wet cloth and apply a cold compress. Consult the doctor for treatment based on the kind of infection. Antibiotic eye drops will be prescribed for bacterial infections.

2. Sty (Stye/Hordeolum)

· Causes: Bacteria infecting the oil glands present at the eyelash base.

· Symptoms: A pimple-like red and tender bump on the top or bottom eyelid. It is usually filled with pus but might also have white or yellow discharge through the boil making the eyelid crusty.

· Treatment: Apply a warm wet cloth compress to the eyelid for at least 15 minutes and about 4 times a day. Never try to break open the sty by squeezing or popping it as it might worsen the condition. If the bump is large or swollen, antibiotic drops or ointment might be prescribed by your physician.

3. Chalazion

· Causes: Chalazion is caused due to inflammation of a gland in eyelid. It may look like sty but they are usually larger and don’t hurt.

· Symptoms: Chalazion is a painless cyst or lump on the upper or lower eyelid. It starts as a poppy seed and grows as big as a pea. It may occur on both the eyelids and both the eyes at the same time. Depending on the size and the location of chalazion, it might make the baby’s eyes teary and could blur or block the vision by applying pressure against the eyeball. It is not contagious or painful.

· Treatment: Some chalazia disappear by itself without treatment. But the treatment which could help your baby to get rid of chalazion quickly is warm compress. The oil which is blocking the duct could be softened and drained by a warm compress. Alike sty, don’t try popping chalazion. Antibiotic drops or ointments could be prescribed to prevent infection. If the lump doesn’t disappear even after warm compress, an injection or a surgical procedure might help.

4. Blepharitis

· Causes: Inflammation in the eyelids. Generally caused due to bacterial infection or overproduction of oil in the eyelid.

· Symptoms: Watery and red irritated eye, The eye lashes may fall off if another infection develops. Blepharitis doesn’t cause vision problems but can cause chalazion, sty and conjunctivitis. Though it can disappear on its own, it might come back and be chronic.

· Treatment: Warm compress along with antibiotic drops and ointments helps in treating Blepharitis. Also, Saline solutions and baby shampoos aids in clearing the baby’s eyes.

5. Periorbital Cellulitis

· Causes: Harmful bacteria entering the eyelid causes this serious eye infection that affects the tissues around baby’s eyes.

· Symptoms: Red and swollen eyes. Generally, affects only one eye. Other symptoms of the infections could be pinkeye, fever and runny nose.

· Treatment: Antibiotic ointments or an injection to reduce infection based on the severity of the infection. It usually reduces within 2 days. 

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