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Babies have delicate eyes (1) that are likely to get irritated easily, becoming itchy and red. In most cases, the redness will subside by itself without the need for medical intervention. However, if you see redness accompanied by watery eyes or discharge, you should consult a doctor.
The post discusses the common causes of redness around a baby’s eyes and the treatment options.
Cause Of Redness Around Baby’s Eyes
Since babies have extremely sensitive skin and eyes, they are prone to react to any substance instantly. Some possible reasons causing redness around your baby’s eyes are as follows:
- Rubbing: If your baby has a habit of rubbing their eyes frequently, this might be the cause of the redness around their eyes. It is usually not a reason of concern and can probably resolve but itself.
- Allergies: Histamine is usually released from the baby’s eyes when they contact an allergen (2). Due to this, there might be visible redness and swelling around the eyes. It might also lead to watery discharge from the eyes.
- Infections: Exposure to bacteria or viruses can cause infections in a baby’s eyes.
- Viral conjunctivitis: The most common viruses causing conjunctivitis in babies are Adenovirus and Herpes virus. It causes redness in and around the eyes and is known as pink eye (3).
- Bacterial conjunctivitis: Bacterial conjunctivitis is commonly caused by Haemophilus influenzae or Streptococcus pneumoniae. The symptoms include periorbital cellulitis and redness around the pupil. In some cases, white or yellow discharge is seen.
- Newborn conjunctivitis: This type of conjunctivitis occurs when the baby is exposed to certain harmful viruses or bacteria in the birth canal during delivery. It can also be caused due to a blocked tear duct and lead to eye discharge (4).
- Sty: A sty is a painful lump near the edge of the eyelid and is often filled with pus (5). It looks like a boil or pimple and develops due to the blockage of the small drainage glands lining the eyelids.
- Periorbital cellulitis: Periorbital cellulitis is a skin infection affecting the eyelids. It can be caused due to an insect or animal bite or due to conjunctivitis. If the infection reaches the inner areas of the eyelids, it is known as orbital cellulitis (6) and might lead to serious repercussions.
- Cleaning and hygiene products: Babies have soft and sensitive skin that can react to the slightest exposure to harmful or harsh chemicals (1). If the shampoo, soap, or any other product contains such substances, it can cause reactions, such as redness and irritation around the eyes.
- Dry/dehydrated skin: Another probable cause for redness around your baby’s eyes could be their skin that is dehydrated and lacking moisture.
Home Remedies For Red Rash Around Baby’s Eyes
If you notice redness around your baby’s eyes, you can start home treatment after consulting with the baby’s pediatrician.
- If you notice your baby rubbing their eyes frequently, consider covering their hands with mittens to help prevent scratches and reduce the frequency of rubbing.
- Change your baby’s soap to a mild and gentle one that has no harsh chemicals.
- Apply moisturizers to help prevent dryness of the skin (1).
- If the redness around the eyes is accompanied by pain and swelling, applying a warm compress (a soft cloth dipped in warm water) can help soothe the pain.
- Avoid the use of substances that might act as allergens for your baby.
Treatment For Redness Around Baby’s Eyes
- Oral antibiotics help treat conjunctivitis
- Antibiotic eye drops or ointments can relieve swelling, pain and also reduce redness in case of a bacterial infection or viral conjunctivitis
- Simple probe surgery if there is a blocked tear duct
- Antibiotics through IV; however, this is rare
Noticing redness around a newborn’s eyes is concerning for a mother. In most cases, it is not caused due to any serious medical condition and can go away within a few days. However, it is always advisable to get an opinion from your pediatrician if you observe sticky discharge from the eyes, puffy eyelids, or any other symptoms worrying you.