How To Treat A Pink Eye For Baby

In most cases, the newborn will begin to feel better within the first 24 to 36 hours. In order to treat conjunctivitis caused by other bacteria, doctors will typically apply antibiotic ointments or drops to the affected eye(s). Warm compresses applied to the eye can help reduce swelling and irritation caused by conjunctivitis caused by bacteria as well as viruses.

Newborns with symptoms of conjunctivitis (pink eye) should see a doctor right away.

Neonatal conjunctivitis is a red eye in a newborn caused by infection, irritation, or a blocked tear duct. When caused by an infection, neonatal conjunctivitis can be very serious.

Symptoms and Causes of Conjunctivitis in Newborns

sleeping baby

Newborns with conjunctivitis develop drainage from the eyes within a few days to several weeks after birth. Their eyelids become puffy, red, and tender. The cause of neonatal conjunctivitis is often difficult to determine because, in many instances, the symptoms don’t vary by cause.

Conjunctivitis in a newborn may be caused by a blocked tear duct, irritation produced by the topical antimicrobials given at birth, or infection with a virus or bacterium passed from the mother to her baby during childbirth. Even mothers without symptoms (asymptomatic) at the time of delivery can carry and pass bacteria or viruses to babies during birth.

The most common types of neonatal conjunctivitis include the following:

  • Inclusion (chlamydial) conjunctivitis
    Chlamydia trachomatis can cause inclusion conjunctivitis and genital infections (chlamydia). A woman with untreated chlamydia can pass the bacteria to her baby during childbirth. Symptoms of inclusion conjunctivitis include redness of the eye(s), swelling of the eyelids, and discharge of pus. Symptoms are likely to appear 5 to 12 days after birth. Symptoms can develop earlier if the amniotic sac is ruptured during delivery. Some newborns with chlamydial conjunctivitis can have the infection in other parts of their bodies. The bacteria can infect the lungs and nasopharynx (where the back of the nose connects to the mouth).
  • Gonococcal conjunctivitis
    Neisseria gonorrhoeae can cause gonococcal conjunctivitis, as well as the sexually transmitted infection called gonorrhea. A woman with untreated gonorrhea can pass the bacteria to her baby during childbirth. Symptoms usually include red eyes, thick pus in the eyes, and swelling of the eyelids. This type of conjunctivitis usually begins in the first 2-5 days of life. It can also progress to serious infections of the bloodstream (bacteremia) and lining of the brain and spinal cord (meningitis) in newborns.
  • Chemical conjunctivitis
    When eye drops are given to newborns to help prevent a bacterial infection, the newborn’s eye(s) may become irritated. This may be diagnosed as chemical conjunctivitis. Symptoms of chemical conjunctivitis usually include mildly red eye(s) and some swelling of the eyelids. Symptoms are likely to last for only 24 to 36 hours.
  • Other neonatal conjunctivitis
    Viruses and bacteria other than Chlamydia trachomatis and Neisseria gonorrhoeae can cause conjunctivitis. For example, bacteria that normally live in a woman’s vagina and are not sexually transmitted can cause conjunctivitis. Additionally, the viruses that cause genital and oral herpes can cause neonatal conjunctivitis and severe eye damage. The mother may pass such viruses to her baby during childbirth. However, herpes conjunctivitis is less common than conjunctivitis caused by gonorrhea and chlamydia. Symptoms usually include red eye(s) and swollen eyelids with some pus.

Prevention and Treatment of Conjunctivitis in Newborns

To prevent neonatal conjunctivitis, most states have laws requiring  providers to put drops or ointment in a newborn’s eyes, typically within 2-3 hours of birth. In the past, hospitals used silver nitrate; now hospitals mostly use antibiotic eye drops, typically erythromycin. During pregnancy and prior to giving birth, women with genital herpes should consult with their physician about ways to minimize the chances of spread to their newborn baby.

Doctors may treat neonatal conjunctivitis caused by a bacterial infection with antibiotics. It will depend on the severity of the infection and the bacteria that caused it. Some antibiotics are applied as an eye drop or ointment in the eye (topical). Other antibiotics are given by mouth (orally), through a vein (intravenous), or as a shot (intramuscular). Doctors may treat a newborn’s conjunctivitis with a combination of topical, and either oral, intravenous, or intramuscular antibiotics. Rinsing the newborn’s infected eye with a saline solution will remove any debris that may develop in response to the infection.

If a blocked tear duct causes conjunctivitis, a gentle, warm massage between the eye and nasal area may help. If the blocked tear duct does not clear by 1 year of age, the newborn may require surgery.

Treatments for the common causes of neonatal conjunctivitis are as follows:

  • Inclusion (chlamydial) conjunctivitis
    Doctors usually use oral antibiotics to treat inclusion conjunctivitis.
  • Gonococcal conjunctivitis
    Doctors give intravenous (IV) or intramuscular (IM) antibiotics to treat gonococcal conjunctivitis. If untreated, the newborn could develop corneal ulcerations (open sores in the cornea) and blindness.
  • Chemical conjunctivitis
    Since this type of conjunctivitis is caused by chemical irritation, treatment is usually not required. The newborn will usually get better in 24 to 36 hours.
  • Other bacterial and viral conjunctivitis
    Doctors usually give antibiotic drops or ointments to treat conjunctivitis caused by other bacteria For both bacterial and viral conjunctivitis, a warm compress to the eye may relieve swelling and irritation. Be sure to wash hands before and after touching the infected eyes.

How can I treat my baby’s pink eye at home?

Particularly in the mornings and after naps, you should use clean, damp cloths, gauze, or cotton balls to wipe your toddler’s eyes clean of any goo or crust that may have formed. To alleviate the swelling, use warm compresses if the cause is a bacterial or viral infection, and cool compresses if the cause is allergies or another type of irritant.

How To Cure Pink eye At Home Fast

Pinkeye is a common name for the eye infection known as conjunctivitis (kun-junc-tih-VY-tus). This condition is quite common in young children. In most cases, it is contagious, and outbreaks have the potential to spread throughout preschools and playgrounds. But even teens and adults can get pinkeye.

An inflammation of the conjunctiva, also known as pinkeye, affects the white part of the eye as well as the inner eyelids. Even though it might have a concerning appearance, this type of infection is typically not very dangerous.

Even so, it is critical that you take your kid to the doctor if they show any symptoms of pinkeye. There are variations of pink eye that clear up on their own while others require medical attention.

What Causes Pinkeye?

Infectious pinkeye (the kind that can spread to others) can be caused by many of the bacteria and viruses responsible for colds and other infections — including ear infections, sinus infections, and sore throats. Sometimes it’s caused by the same types of bacteria that cause chlamydia and gonorrhea, two sexually transmitted diseases (STDs).

Some kinds of pinkeye are noninfectious, such as:

  • allergic conjunctivitis, which happens more often in kids with other allergic conditions, like hay fever. Triggers include grass, ragweed pollen, animal dander, and dust mites.
  • irritant conjunctivitis, caused by anything that irritates the eyes, such as air pollution or chlorine in pools

Pinkeye in Newborns

Newborns are at risk for pinkeye and can develop serious health problems if it’s not treated. If a pregnant woman has an STD, during delivery the bacteria or virus can pass from the birth canal into the baby’s eyes, causing pinkeye. To prevent this, doctors give antibiotic ointment or eye drops to all babies right after birth. Occasionally, this treatment causes a mild chemical conjunctivitis, which usually clears up on its own. Doctors also can screen pregnant women for STDs and treat them during pregnancy to prevent spreading the infection to the baby.

What Are the Signs & Symptoms of Pinkeye?

Besides the telltale red or pink color that gives pinkeye its name, eye discomfort is a common symptom. Kids might say that it feels like there’s sand in the eye. Often, there’s some discharge from the eye, and pain and swelling of the conjunctiva. Some kids have swollen eyelids or sensitivity to bright light. Pinkeye can affect one or both eyes.

In cases of allergic conjunctivitis, itchiness and watery eyes are common symptoms.

Is Pinkeye Contagious?

Pinkeye is contagious if it’s caused by bacteria or a virus:

  • Pinkeye that’s caused by bacteria can spread to others as soon as symptoms appear and for as long as there’s discharge from the eye — or until 24 hours after antibiotics are started.
  • Pinkeye that’s caused by a virus is generally contagious before symptoms appear and can remain so as long as the symptoms last.

Allergic conjunctivitis and irritant conjunctivitis are not contagious.

A child can get pinkeye by touching an infected person or something an infected person has touched, such as a used tissue. In the summertime, pinkeye can spread when kids swim in contaminated water or share contaminated towels. It also can spread through coughing and sneezing.

Also, someone who has pinkeye in one eye can spread it to the other eye by rubbing or touching the infected eye, then touching the other eye.

How Is Pinkeye Diagnosed?

If you think your child has pinkeye, it’s important to see your health care provider to learn what’s causing it and how to treat it. Other serious eye conditions can have similar symptoms, so a child who complains of severe pain, changes in eyesight, swelling around the eyes, or sensitivity to light should be examined.

If you can’t get an in-person visit, you might be able to do a “video visit” instead. Telehealth — when patients and health care providers use technology for the remote diagnosis and treatment of some health conditions — is becoming more and more popular. Ask your health care provider if his or her practice participates in telemedicine, and check with your insurance provider to see if this option is covered.

How Is Pinkeye Treated?

Pinkeye caused by a virus usually goes away without any treatment. Pinkeye caused by bacteria is treated with antibiotic eye drops or ointment.

eye drops illustration

It can be hard to get kids to tolerate eye drops several times a day. If you’re having trouble, put the drops on the inner corner of your child’s closed eye — when your child opens the eye, the medicine will flow into it. If you still have trouble with drops, ask the doctor about antibiotic ointment, which can be placed in a thin layer where the eyelids meet, and will melt and enter the eye.

If your child has allergic conjunctivitis, your doctor may prescribe anti-allergy medicine, either as pills, liquid, or eye drops.

You also can give acetaminophen or ibuprofen to relieve discomfort (check instructions for correct amount).

How Can Parents Help?

Using cool or warm compresses on the eyes may make your child more comfortable. Clean the edges of the infected eye carefully with warm water and gauze or cotton balls. This can also remove the crusts of dried discharge that make the eyelids stick together in the morning.

If your child wears contact lenses, your doctor or eye doctor may recommend that the lenses not be worn until the infection is gone. Then, disinfect the lenses and their storage case at least twice before letting your child wear them again. If your child wears disposable contact lenses, throw away the current pair and use a new pair after the infection is gone.

Doctors usually recommend keeping kids with contagious conjunctivitis out of school, childcare, or summer camp for a short time.

Can Pinkeye Be Prevented?

Infectious conjunctivitis is highly contagious, so teach kids to wash their hands well and often with warm water and soap. They also should not share eye drops, tissues, eye makeup, washcloths, towels, or pillowcases.

Be sure to wash your own hands well after touching an infected child’s eyes, and throw away items like gauze or cotton balls after they’ve been used. Wash towels and other linens that the child has used in hot water separately from the rest of the family’s laundry to avoid contamination.

If you know your child is prone to allergic conjunctivitis, keep windows and doors closed on days when the pollen is heavy, and dust and vacuum often to limit allergy triggers. Irritant conjunctivitis can only be prevented by avoiding the irritating causes.

Screening and treating pregnant women for STDs can prevent many cases of pinkeye in newborns. A pregnant woman may have bacteria in her birth canal even if she shows no symptoms, which is why prenatal screening is important.

When Should I Call the Doctor?

If the pinkeye does not improve after 2 to 3 days of treatment, or after a week if untreated, call your doctor.

If your child has increased swelling, redness, and tenderness in the eyelids and around the eye, along with a fever, call your doctor. Those symptoms may mean the infection has started to spread beyond the conjunctiva and will need more treatment.

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