If you notice that the white part of one or both of your toddler’s eyes are red, there is a high possibility that they may be suffering from conjunctivitis, also referred to as red eye or pink eye. This condition occurs when an allergen, infection or irritant inflames the transparent membrane that coats the whites of the eyes and also the inside parts of the eyelids. The toddler’s system will try to fight the infection and this causes the eyes to become crusty or goopy.
What Are the Symptoms of Pink Eye in Toddlers?
This is the most common symptoms for pink eyes. The area affected may swell and itch, while some toddlers may even experience pain and irritation.
At times, discharge may come out from your toddler’s eye. If the pink eye is related to a virus, it may appear watery on the seepage. In the case of an infection by bacteria, the seepage will appear white and thick, greenish and yellow.
When the toddler suffers from pink eye, the white parts of the eyes may become red and seem like they have been exposed to an irritant. The reddening of the pink eye is more severe than normal, hence making it easy to detect.
When a toddler has pink eye, they are likely to constantly want to scratch their eyes. This is because the condition is causing some itchiness.
Warning: Under normal circumstances, pink eye lasts anywhere between three to five days. Any infection that seems to linger on longer without treatment can mean that the infection is spreading. It is important to take the toddler to a pediatrician in case of prolonged infection accompanied by a fever.
What Causes Pink Eye in Toddlers?
Once you take your toddler to the doctor for evaluation, the doctor will ask about the symptoms and may conclude on one of the causes below:
If the conjunctivitis is accompanied by a cold, it is probable that the infection is caused by a virus. Actually, viruses are the most common causes of conjunctivitis.
If you notice that the eyes are producing thick yellow discharge that causes the swelling of the eyelids, it is possible that the infection is caused by bacteria. Common bacteria that cause conjunctivitis include staphylococcus, hemophilus and streptococcus.
If the toddler’s eyes are itchy, watery, bloodshot and swollen accompanied by a running nose, it may be because he is reacting to an allergen. Common allergens include dust, smoke and pollen. While an allergic reaction may not be caused by an infection, it can become one if the toddler continues to be exposed to the allergen causing the irritation.
How to Treat Pink Eye in Toddlers
The treatment method you use depends heavily on the cause of the pink eye.
1. For Viral Conjunctivitis
This type of conjunctivitis mostly clears up on its own after a few days. Your doctor is likely to advise you to keep the eye area clean by washing the eyes with arm water and rubbing off the dried discharge. Go back to your doctor if the infection will not have cleared up in two weeks. Toddlers with this type of conjunctivitis find warm compresses comforting. Soak a clean cloth in warm water and place it on the eyes as your toddler listens to music.
2. For Bacterial Conjunctivitis
The doctor is likely to prescribe antibiotics drops or ointments to use for at least a week. Apply the drops or ointment with clean hands. Ensure that you aim at the eyelid’s lower inside part for the ointment and at the corner of the eyes for the drops. Ensure that you use the ointment and drops for the full length of time they were prescribed for, even if the conditions clear up after using for two days. Clean the child’s eyes using warm water to ensure that the area remains clean for the antibiotics to work and to reduce the chances of infection recurring.
3. For Allergies Conjunctivitis
This is as a result of exposure to allergens. Therefore, it is ideal to first identify the allergen and keep the toddler away from it. If the condition is making the child uncomfortable, the doctor may recommend drops for the condition. If there are other allergy symptoms, antihistamines may be prescribed for allergies. Cool compresses can also offer relief for allergen conjunctivitis.
How to Sooth Toddlers with Pink Eye at Home
It is possible to keep the child comfortable with soothers such as:
- Warm, wet clothes for wiping the crusties and goop from the eyes. This is especially ideal in the morning and nap times.
- Warm compresses to reduce swelling.
- Ibuprofen or Acetaminophen for discomfort reliefs.
- Antihistamine eye drops for pink eye as a result of allergic reactions.
Always ask your doctor for advice before administering eye drops to your toddler.
How to Prevent Toddlers from Infecting Pink Eye
Pink eye can be passed from one person to the other. To prevent this, follow the tips below:
1. Change Your Toddler’s Towels and Linens
Change the child’s towels and linens after the infection has been cleared. Wash them in hot water away from the rest of the family laundry. Ensure that there is no sharing of towels and washcloths in the house. During an infection, the best thing you can do is discourage sharing.
2. Wash Hands
Ensure that everyone in the house washes their hands frequently with soap and water. To encourage your toddler to wash their hands, let them scrub until they complete two rounds of “happy birthday” song. Remind everyone to avoid scratching their eyes before washing their hands.
3. Sanitize Items Around the House
Wipe and spray the items that are commonly used by everyone around the house. These can include door handles, faucets and toys among many other things. Ensure you use disinfectants and tell your toddler’s teacher to disinfect the day care area. Also alert the swimming teacher if your toddler goes for swimming classes. Under-chlorinated water is a good breeding place for pink eye bacteria.
To learn more about pink eye in toddlers, watch the video below: