Infant Eye Infection

by Sharon Hopkins


Given the many reasons for eye infections, they can occur in babies at any stage during infancy and childhood. Some babies get eye infections as they pass through the birth canal. In older babies, eye infections can occur through exposure to infected persons. There are several other eye problems that occur in infants including strabismus, blocked tear ducts, amblyopia or lazy eye, etc. Conjunctivitis or pinkeye is another very common eye infection in infants and young children.

The symptoms of eye infection in infants depend on the underlying cause. Usually, teary eyes, swelling, and redness are some of the common symptoms. Itchiness, pain, and a white or yellow watery discharge from the eye are the symptoms of conjunctivitis in infants. The membrane that lines an infant’s eyelids is called conjunctiva, and when it gets infected, conjunctivitis develops. Neonatal conjunctivitis can be caused by the bacteria that live normally in a women’s vagina. The mother may be asymptomatic at the time of delivery, thereby infecting the newborn. In some newborns, conjunctivitis is caused due to sexually transmitted diseases, and this should be addressed immediately. After birth, within a week, infected newborn infants develop drainage in the eyes. Infant eye infections and clods are also related; catching a cold can result in an eye infection in babies.

Conjunctivitis caused by a virus is called pink eye and is more common in infants. Exposure to dust, chemicals, pollen, and blocked tear ducts also result in conjunctivitis in babies. While pink eye is not dangerous, it can be extremely uncomfortable for the infant as it causes itchiness, pain, and watering of the eye. Also, the baby will be more likely to rub his/her eyes, which can aggravate the condition. The common types of neonatal conjunctivitis include inclusion conjunctivitis, gonococcal conjunctivitis, chemical conjunctivitis, bacterial conjunctivitis, and viral conjunctivitis.

Home Remedies

In general, the pain and discomfort caused by pinkeye is the worst of all. There are some home remedies for conjunctivitis in children that can help relieve symptoms and make your baby more comfortable.

  • Wet a tea bag in boiling water and set aside until cool. Placing the cooled tea bag on the infected eyelids help to soothe the eye.
  • Another one of the effective pink eye home remedies includes a salt solution. Add salt to boiling water. Cool the salt solution until it is warm. Dip a cotton ball in the salt solution and place it on the eyelids.
  • You can also use chamomile oil to relieve the eye. Add a few drops of chamomile oil in a cup of boiling water and mix well; allow it to cool. Wet a cotton ball in the mixture and place it on the eyelids of infected infant.
  • Jasmine flower has a cooling effect. Soak clean jasmine flower overnight in distilled water. Drain, and with a dropper apply to the affected eye.
  • Breast milk is one of the most effective pink eye home remedies for infants. With a sterilized dropper, apply two drops of breast milk to the affected eye. As a result of its antibacterial properties, breast milk can heal the pink eye effectively.
  • In some cases, the eye drops given at birth cause eye irritation, and such eye problems go away on its own.
  • If the eye irritation is caused by a block tear duct, a gentle warm massage between the eye and nasal area helps to ease the condition.
  • Eye infection caused by bacteria needs to be treated with antibiotics. Eye drops and ointments are generally used. The sticky yellow drainage can be removed using salt water eye drops.
  • A warm compress to the eyes can ease the condition as it can relieve swelling and irritation.
  • It is very important to wash hands before and after touching the infected eyes.

Always check with your doctor first before using any of the home remedies.

References:

  1. http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/001606.htm
  2. http://www.cdc.gov/conjunctivitis/newborns.htm

Warning: The reader of this article should exercise all precautionary measures while following instructions on the home remedies from this article. Avoid using any of these products if you are allergic to it. The responsibility lies with the reader and not with the site or the writer.
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