Symptom Guide: Eye infection
Decipher the possible causes of your baby’s eye infection and know what to do


What it could be

What to do

Eyes are watery with tears pooling in the corners. White or yellow discharge that may lead to crusting overnight. Skin is red and a bulge is present under the eyelid close to the nose.

Blocked or partially blocked tears ducts are common. Your baby’s tears drain out through a tiny duct inside the corner of the eye and into the nose. When these ducts are only partially open or blocked, the tears build up causing an eye infection such as conjunctivitis.

Try gently massaging the skin near the corner of the eye next to the nose to unblock the duct. Clean your baby’s eyes regularly using a cotton ball dipped in saline solution. Wipe the eye from the inside corner out. If the blockage persists minor surgery may be necessary. Untreated blocked tear ducts can become infected, let a doctor treat this.

Eyes are very red and watery. There’s a yellow discharge that makes the eyelids stick together.

Bacterial conjunctivitis caused by bacteria such as staphylococcus, streptococcus, or hemophilus. This is highly contagious.

See a doctor right away and keep your child home from nursery school. Antibiotic ointment or drops will be prescribed to treat infection. Wash your hands each time you need to treat your baby’s eyes. Wash with warm water to keep her eyes clean.

Eyes are red, watery and may be crusty.

Viral conjunctivitis is often caused by adenovirus following a cold or upper respiratory tract infection. This is also highly contagious, so keep your child home.

If the infection is mild it should clear in a week or so, just keep the eye area clean. Apply a facecloth dipped in warm water for relief. If the infection persists see your doctor for further treatment.

Red, swollen and itchy eyes, with a stringy discharge. Runny nose and sneezing.

Allergic conjunctivitis is caused by an allergen or irritant your baby has been exposed to.

You’ll need to identify the allergen and keep your baby away from it. Use a cool compress for relief. Check with your doctor for treatment solutions.

Pus-filled bump on the edge or inside of eyelid. Eyes are red and tearing.

A stye is inflammation of an eyelash follicle, a result of a bacterial infection at the base of an eyelash. A white or yellow discharge may be present causing the eye to crust up.

Styes usually drain out in a few days, but it may help to pull the offending lash out. See your doctor if your baby is younger than 3 months or if the swelling spreads to the eyelids. Apply a warm compress to the eye three to four times a day for at least 15 minutes to help it drain. Never pop a stye.

Small, firm and painful bump on the eyelid. Larger than a stye and farther from the edge of the eyelid.

A chalazion develops when an oil gland on the inner eyelid gets blocked, causing inflammation.

See your doctor for advice. Apply a warm compress for 15 minutes four times a day to help the chalazion drain quicker. Never pop the chalazion. If it persists it may become an abscess and surgery will be unavoidable. It’s best to consult an opthalmologist.

Red, swollen, itchy and scaly eyelids. May appear crusty in the morning. Tearing or dry eye. The eyelashes may fall off or grow in the wrong direction.

Blapharitis is an infection at the base of the upper and lower eyelids. Usually caused by seborrheic dermatitis, it’s a dry flaky skin condition on the face and head.

See a doctor immediately. You might be referred to an opthalmologist for a thorough examination. Blepharitis is often a chronic condition, flaring up every now and again. A doctor may recommend antibiotic eye drops or ointment, warm wet compresses and daily eyelid washing.

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