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How to treat pink eye in infants and children

Updated on July 5, 2011

 Pink eye or conjuctivitis

Pink eye is the inflammation of the outermost layer of the eye and the inner surface of the eyelids. Pink eye can occur in infants and children for a variety of reasons. In some babies, pink eye can occur due to a bacterial or viral infection. Others it can caused by a reaction to common chemicals or a variety of allergens. In some instances, pink eye or conjuctivitis can develop simply because of a child's blocked tear duct. Your child's pediatrician may closely monitor the condition to see if the blocked ducts opens on its own or it requires further evaluation and treatment. Below you will find how to treat pink eye in infants and children.

Pink eye or conjuctivitis in infants and children
Pink eye or conjuctivitis in infants and children

Pink eye symptoms and causes:

Bacterial conjuctivitis:

Bacterial conjunctivitis is an infection caused by bacteria such as staphylococci, streptococci or haemophilus. It can occur in infants, children and adults and often spreads to both eyelids. It can cause heavy discharge. A child with bacterial conjuctivitis may also develop ear infection.

Viral conjuctivitis: Viral conjuctivitis is associated with common cold and may be caused by a virus called adenovirus. It affects only one eye and can cause symptoms such as excessive watering, redness and a light discharge. Viral conjuctivitis is highly contagious and can spread easily to others.

Allergic conjunctivitis: Allergic conjuctivitis affects both eyelids. It causes itching, excessive tearing, and redness in infants and children. Other symptoms include stuffy nose, itchy or runny nose. It is often caused by antigens like pollen, cosmetics and dust mites. Allergic pink eye occur in spring and summer time when there is a lot of pollen in the air.

Chlamydial conjunctivitis: Chlamydial conjuctivitis is caused by an organism called Chlamydia trachomatis. It affects both eyes and cause a sticky discharge.

Chemical pink eye: Chemical pink eye can result if the irritating substances enters the eye. Common irritants include household cleaners, sprays, smoke, smog and industrial pollutants.

How pink eye spread?

Pink eye spread through coughing and sneezing. Both viral and bacterial conjuctivitis is highly contagious and caused by airborne sources. Kids diagnosed with pink eye should stay out of school for a short period of time. Talk to your health care provider first.

How to treat pink eye in infants and children
How to treat pink eye in infants and children

Treatment of pink eye in infants and children:

1.Bacterial and viral conjuctivitis:

Treatment of pink eye can vary depending on whether conjunctivitis is caused by a bacteria or virus. Bacterial conjuctivitis is treated with antibiotic eye drops and ointments. Eye drops and ointments don't work for viral conjuctivitis. Viral conjuctivitis has no treament because it usually clears on its own. It stays up to 5 to 7 days.

To reduce pain and remove the discharge of pink eye, use warm or cold water. Warm water can be used to wash the debris. Cold water may help with irritants, chemicals and allergens. Always make sure to use a different washcloth for each eye to prevent spreading. Clean the eye by wiping from the inside to the outside eye area.

2. Allergic conjuctivitis: Allergic pink eye usually improve once the allergen is removed. Antihistamine eye drops may be used to clear the infection.

3. Chemical pink eye: Chemical pinkeye requires prompt washing of the eye for five minutes and an immediate call to the doctor or local poison control center.

4. Home remedies: You can also try couple of drops of breast milk to the affected area in infants. Always ask your pediatriacian before trying it. It also works for tear ducts.

Boil fennel seeds in water and apply the water to the affected area. This reduce inflammation, pain and redness.

5. Remove contact lenses: Children who wear contact lenses should remove them if they have pink eye.

Prevention of pink eye:

  • Wash your hands often to keep pink eye from spreading
  • Never share wash cloths, towels and pillow cases.
  • Do not share eye drops and eye cosmetics such as mascara, eye liners and eye shadows. If you have pink eye replace these items after your recovery.


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    • profile image


      8 years ago

      I have had severe blocked nose for years, well ever since I contracted clymidia when I was younger, I have researched a little on the web and ask my doc but he says there is no possicle link, would love to get this sorted!!

    • Pollyannalana profile image


      8 years ago from US

      I use soft contact lens drops for pink eye and they are wonderful, someone told me about it and it works! Use it on my cat for her allergies too. Even clears up her wheezing, honestly.

    • Ddraigcoch profile image


      8 years ago from UK

      My 8 month old son has developed this today. I have always cleared it with my daughters by cleaning with cooled boiled water and cotton wool. He has had a virus for 48 hours so I can see it is viral. It is in one eye only and pretty nasty looking. I hate seeing my children poorly. Thank you for your hub. It gave me some affirmation.

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      Pink eye is spread by direct and indirect contact. It is extremely contagious. For example, a child with pink eye (conjunctivitis) rubs his eye, plays with a toy, and puts it down. That toy is contaminated and poses the risk of infection for the next child, and so on. A mother hugging her baby with pink eye is at great risk for infection. Proper handwashing and avoiding contact with your face are the best preventative measures, though not always fool-proof.

      You mentioned throwing away cosmetics after recovery. They should be thrown away immediately when symptoms appear. Otherwise, you'll keep reinfecting yourself and the infection will not resolve.

      Viral pinkeye is contagious for up to 14 days. Bacterial pinkeye is contagious for up to 24 hours after antibiotics are started or until there's no discharge from the eye. Always check with your doctor to ensure proper diagnosis and treatment.

    • msorensson profile image


      9 years ago

      Fantastic that you mentioned breast milk!! Yes!!

      Great hub!!


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