If you’ve noticed drainage from your infant’s eyes, or an increase in tearing, then you’re probably online right now researching what causes eye discharge in babies. But the fact is, there are many reasons why your infant may be experiencing eye drainage. However, the most common cause is a viral eye infection. But because there are so many possible reasons behind this mystery discharge you should contact your child’s pediatrician to make an appointment for an exam.
Learning what causes eye discharge in babies can help you to determine whether or not medical treatment is necessary. However, in most cases, it is. When an infant experiences eye discharge, it can be due to:
- Viral infections
- Bacterial infections
- Chicken pox
- Blocked tear duct
Should you notice an excessive amount of tearing or discharge, contact your child’s doctor right away.
The Common Cold
Can a cold cause discharge? Yes. A baby can easily develop a viral eye infection if they have a cold. During this time, they may also experience dry eyes, excessive tearing, eye pain and headache, and swelling and irritation, as well as red eyes, general discomfort, and congestion. It’s recommended that your infant see their pediatrician immediately, should you notice any type of discharge or an increase in tearing, especially if only one eye seems to be affected. If your infant is dealing with excessive tearing, learning how to relieve watery eyes can teach you how to reduce general irritation and swelling. If your child seems uncomfortable a pediatrician will usually recommend applying a warm compress to the eyes for a period of five to ten minutes, three to four times a day for immediate relief.
Eye allergies can also be to blame. Infants and toddlers can develop allergies just like adults and can have an allergic reaction to dust, mites, mold spores, pollen, and pet dander. If allergies are to blame, your child may need to see an allergist to pinpoint the culprit and receive proper treatment.
Bacterial Pink Eye
Bacterial pink eye is another common cause. This involves a bacterial infection of the eye, with discharge as the main symptom. It can affect one or both of the eyes.
If you find a small amount of dried discharge in the corners of the eyes, this is totally normal. This mucus is often cream-colored and can be caused by an irritant that got into the eyes. No treatment is needed for this type of discharge.
However, if the discharge is left to dry on the skin surrounding the eye, it can cause further irritation to the sensitive skin under and around the eyes. Fortunately, learning how to soothe irritated skin around the eyes and eyelids is rather simple. Apply a type of gentle barrier cream such as Eucerin, or even a light layer of coconut oil to prevent further irritation and redness.
Blocked Tear Ducts
Approximately ten percent of infants will have discharge caused by a blocked tear duct. The main symptom is excessive tearing, however, some discharge may also be present. This type of excessive tearing can happen, even when the baby is not crying. They may also have red eyes with some swelling present.
When a foreign object is to blame, the eye will react by producing pus. Foreign objects can include dust, dirt, sand, and other small particles. The main symptom is an eye infection that’s not responsive to medicated eye drops.
Cellulitis of the Eyelid
This is a serious condition that affects the tissues around the eye and the eyelid. Infants with this condition will have eyelids that are very tender and swollen. They may also have difficulty closing their eye due to the excessive swelling. This can be a complication of bacterial pink eye.
A stye can develop as a result of a clogged gland or it can be caused by bacteria. While in most cases, styes often resolve on their own, if you notice redness, swelling, and tearing, contact an advice nurse for treatment recommendation.
When to Call the Doctor
With infants, especially newborns, you’ll find that most doctors will request that you make an appointment for any type of change that’s out of the norm. Speak with your child’s physician if you notice pus in the eye, eye drainage, and swelling that doesn’t improve within twenty-four hours, or if there is drainage present in addition to a fever, or if excessive swelling is present.
What Causes Eye Discharge in Toddlers?
Most of the same issues that affect infants will also affect your toddler’s eye health. However, the most common cause of eye discharge in toddlers is bacterial or viral pink eye. To prevent bacterial pink eye, practice good hygiene and encourage your child to wash their hands often and avoid touching their eyes. Since this is a common infection among children your child will be at an increased risk if they go to parks or attend daycare.
Can Children Have Blepharitis?
Yes. This condition is caused by issues with the meibomian glands in the eyelid. It can affect people of all ages, including infants and children. More commonly this condition will affect women over the age of forty. While this is not a life-threatening condition, early treatment is recommended to prevent this condition from becoming chronic. To learn more, read my guide on how to get rid of blepharitis for good.
Can Skincare Products Cause Discharge?
Some can, however, these products are usually meant for adults, not infants and toddlers. Many eye care and anti-aging products contain powerful chemicals that are designed to minimize the signs of aging but can cause discharge, swelling, and redness, should they get into your eyes. If you’d like to learn more, read my article on how to get rid of wrinkles under your eyes when you smile, for safe product recommendations.
Now that you know what causes eye discharge in babies, contact your child’s pediatrician for more advice regarding care and treatment. In most cases, your child’s doctor will request that you make an appointment in order for them to assess the condition and determine the underlying cause. In most cases, eye discharge is relatively harmless, however, if you’re dealing with a bacterial infection, then antibiotic treatment is needed immediately to avoid worsening of the condition and symptoms.