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Dealing With Pink Eye in Toddlers and Infants

Updated on April 3, 2014
My daughter when I first noticed her eyes were different. A little bit of extra eye junk and puffiness under the eyes.
My daughter when I first noticed her eyes were different. A little bit of extra eye junk and puffiness under the eyes.

My Personal Experience

Let me first say that I served as a Medic in the Army so I have been trained to identify certain ailments. One of which being pink eye. So when my daughters eyes started looking a little off to me; excessive "eye boogers" and a little puffy and red, I immediately took her to the doctor. It turns out I was right. She had bacterial conjunctivitis. I used the eye drops and she looked a million times better in a single day. I later found out that it was a common occurrence in my area at the time. I want to share with you how to best identify and treat pink eye, also known as red eye or conjunctivitis.

How to Identify Conjunctivitis (Pink Eye or Red Eye)

In general, pink eye is inflammation of the conjunctiva. This is the clear tissue that covers the white part of the eye.

There are three different types of pink eye based on how it is contracted.

  • Viral Conjunctivitis: Caused by a virus
  • Bacterial Conjunctivitis: Caused by bacteria, sometimes including Gonorrhea or Clamydia
  • Allergic Conjunctivitis : Can be caused by something irritating the eye like shampoo, dirt, smoke, pollen, dust or other allergens.

Symptoms Include:

  • Redness of the white part of the eye
  • Increased tear production
  • Itchy or burning eyes
  • Blurry vision
  • Thick yellow "eye boogers" that form crusty globs in the corners of the eye and clump on eye lashes. (This is your biggest indicator that it is bacterial).
  • Green or white discharge from the eyes. (Typically viral pink eye)
  • Puffy eyes (in my daughter's case)

Treatment for Pink Eye

Treatment for pink eye varies by the specific cause.

Viral Pink Eye is much like a common cold. It is a pain and annoying and the it pretty much clears up on its own. No need to run to the doctor right away for this one. Don't worry too much about it unless it doesn't clear up on its own in about a week. It is contagious however, so make sure you are washing your hands and your baby's often. Try not to touch your own eyes so that you don't get it as well.
Allergenic Pink Eye needs to be treated by treating the allergy. Take your child to the doctor so they can find out the exact cause and treat it.
Irritant caused Pink Eye. Use water or saline eye drops to flush the eye of the dirt, dust, etc that is causing the irritation. This should help to clear up the inflammation in a matter of hours.
Bacterial Pink Eye is probably the most serious. You need to take your child to the doctor as soon as you see signs of a problem. They will typically prescribe an antibacterial eye drop that you will use around 3 times per day, for 5-7 days. Make sure you use it for as long as it was prescribed for and not just until it looks better. Antibiotics can cause worse problems when not used correctly because bacteria can become resistant to it.

Antibiotic Eye Drops for Pink Eye
Antibiotic Eye Drops for Pink Eye

Administering Eye Drops for an Infant or Toddler

Your child is not going to like the eye drops most likely. Don't worry too much about getting the drop perfectly in the eye. They don't understand what you are doing and are going to fight you. The best thing you can do is do let them close their eyes and put the drop on the inside corner of their eye. The natural reaction for little ones is to rub their eye. This will move the medication into their eye for you. Make sure you wash your hands and theirs after each application.

© 2014 Megan Smith

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