Pink Eye in Babies: Symptoms, Causes, Treatment and Prevention


Pinkeye is a common condition of the eyes for both adults and babies. It arises due to inflammation of the whites of the eyes or the inner linings of the eyelids. Due to the inflammation, the blood vessels become more visible. This imparts the characteristic pink color or redness to the eyes. Your baby can have this due to an infection, contact with some kind of allergen, or some other kind of irritant. It can also get bacterial and viral infections leading to pinkeye. Such types of pink eye conditions are very infectious.

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Pinkeye Symptoms and Causes

If you see that the white of one or both the eyes of your baby are reddish or pink in color and the lower rim of at least one of the eyelids is red, then there is a strong chance that it has got a pinkeye. Ask your baby if it is feeling itchy or sandy-in its eyes. You may also notice a gooey-looking discharge from the eyes. The eyes may also appear crusty due to the baby’s immune system trying to fight the infection. These are some of the symptoms of pinkeye which you should not ignore. You should call the baby’s doctor as soon as the symptoms of pinkeye catches your attention. Although, it is far from being a fatal condition, yet if proper medical treatment is not administered promptly, the germs can spread to the soft tissue around the eye. In case it is not caused by bacterial infection, there is less chance of this secondary infection.

Even a newborn may have pink eyes. In fact, they are more susceptible to it than older babies because of immature immune system, blocked tear ducts etc. An infection transmitted from the mother during vaginal delivery may also be the reason for pink eye in a baby. If you notice mildly red eyes with some swelling of the eyelids in the newborn then it is most likely that it has had a pink eye condition. However, it may well be a short-lived type which usually develops in reaction to the eyedrops administered to babies at birth.

pink eye

Pinkeye treatment

Usually, pink eye is not a serious condition, but in a newborn or in a very small child it can have serious impact like spreading of infection to soft tissues of the eye and aggravate the problem. So if you notice pinkeye in your newborn or any other small baby call the doctor right away. He or she will examine both the eyes of your baby’s and also ask you about the symptoms. Treatment depends completely on how do you get pink eye since there are different sources for pinkeye condition.


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1} Viral conjunctivitis

This condition is precipitated by a virus. It normally goes away on its own within a week or a matter of eight to ten days. The doctor may advise you to clean the eyes by subtly washing them with warm water and rub away the crusty discharge. Call the doctor again if the condition does not improve in two weeks. You can also apply a warm compress to the eyes since it may seem hugely comforting for the baby. Soak a clean piece of cloth in warm water and place it on one of the eyes of your little one.

2} Bacterial conjunctivitis

If the condition has been precipitated by some kind of bacteria then the doctor may prescribe antibiotic drop or ointment to use on the baby’s eyes. You should maintain absolute hygiene during application of ointments or drops. Wash your hands with antibiotic handrub, gently pull down the baby’s lower eyelid and apply the ointment on it on a run. As the baby would blink, the ointment would spread into its eye.

If the doctor has prescribed drops, apply the drops on the inside corner of the eye when it is still shut. As it opens up her eyes, the medicine will spread into the eye.

3} Allergic conjunctivitis

If the problem is due to allergy then the best away to treat it is to identify the allergen and keep the baby away from it. To reduce the feeling of discomfort the best way is to give a cool compress to the eyes. This has been revealed from a clinical trial.

4} Chemical conjunctivitis

Your baby may also develop pinkeye as a reaction to the eyedrops given to it to prevent infections. However, this is not likely to last more than 36 hours.



For almost all types of pinkeye in older babies the best way is to keep its hands clean. This can be done by repeatedly cleaning it with hand rubs or preventing it from dirtying its hands. For infants the doctor may recommend few drops of expressed breast milk to be put in the affected eye or eyes several times a day. This helps to clear the discharge and also to treat infections at an early stage. It may even prevent an infection since breast milk has wonderful antibacterial qualities owing to its content of minerals, vitamins and micronutrients.

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