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Conjunctivitis, or pink eye as it is usually referred to, is not uncommon in babies and young children. It is the inflammation of the conjunctiva. The conjunctiva is a thin, transparent membrane that lines the whites of the eyes and the inside of the eyelids. When inflamed, the blood vessels become more visible which gives the eye the characteristic pinkness or redness of conjunctivitis.
The inflammation of the conjunctiva could be due to an irritant or caused by an infection or allergen. Pink eye infections caused due to bacteria or virus are contagious in nature and you might need to refrain your child from playing with other kids just to ensure the safety measure of not letting the infection spread to other children.
Causes Of Pink Eye In Babies
- Viral infection, wherein the child would have conjunctivitis along with cold-like symptoms.
- Eye drops given at birth can irritate the newborn's eyes and cause chemical conjunctivitis.
- Blocked tear ducts can cause conjunctivitis-like symptoms.
Symptoms Of Pink Eye In Babies
- Whites of the eye appear pink or slightly red.
- Eyes may become teary and crusty.
- Lower rim of the eyelids are red.
Home Remedies For Pink Eye In Babies
1. Breast milk
Mother's milk has healing properties as well. Colostrum present in the breast milk is highly rich in micronutrients. Even doctors agree with the fact that breast milk can heal almost all kinds of basic ailments in infants.
On both the eyelids, apply breast milk about 2 to 3 times per day.
- You can also apply the breast milk using a dropper. Breast milk can be applied by expressing it directly or by expressing initially in a cup/bowl and then dropping it to the eyes.
- Even if only one eye is infected, apply the breast milk to both the eyes. This would avoid the spreading of the infection.
2. Raw honey
Honey has been widely used for its antibiotic, antibacterial and antifungal features. It is also effective in curing various eye infections.
- Take about ¼ cup of honey and to this add an equal amount of distilled, slightly warm water.
- Place around one or two drops in each eye. Use a clean dropper to do this. You can do this every few hours till the infection heals.
This is a natural antibiotic. It boosts healing by fighting inflammation. Turmeric can produce an antibody that is capable of suppressing the activity of the allergen causing pink eye.
- Mix about one teaspoon of turmeric with water. This mixture can be used as eyewash.
- You can prepare a warm compress as well. Add about one tablespoon of turmeric in a cup of boiled water. Soak a cotton pad in this solution and apply on the eye.
Coffee is great as a home remedy to treat pink eye. In this method, we will use coffee as an eyewash.
- In half a cup of water, boil few pinches of coffee.
- Allow it to cool down.
- Cooled black coffee can be used to rinse the eyes.
This remedy can be used about four times daily till the pink eye heals.
5. Chamomile tea
Chamomile tea has effective cooling properties. It also possesses a relaxing aroma. It provides relief to an infected eye. Use it in the following manner:
- In boiling water, brew the flowers. Allow it to cool down. Place them on closed eyelids. Do this at regular intervals. You can use cotton balls to do this.
- You can also use chamomile oil. Put a few drops of this in distilled water. Dip a cotton ball into it. Place this over the eyes. Let it stay on for about ten minutes.
However, this method should be used only for babies who are above the age of one.
6. Raw potato
Potatoes have astringent properties. It can reduce the soreness of the eyes. It also relieves the accompanied pain and irritation. You can use a slice of potato or use it in the grated form.
- Wash the potato. Cut a thin slice.
- Place this slice on the affected eyes.
- You can also grate the potato. Place them on closed eyes and leave it that way for about ten minutes.
- Each time you use this remedy, remember to use a fresh slice of potato.
- You can repeat this process several times a day.
7. Colloidal silver
This is capable of soothing the eye and in treating the inflammation. It has been in use since ages to treat eye-related infections that babies usually suffer from. It can be applied externally in the following manner:
- Place two or three drops of this into each eye using a dropper.
- Do this till the symptoms last, at least a minimum of 3 to 4 times daily.
- Even if one eye is not infected, apply the drops to both the eyes so that the infection does not spread.
8. Intake of vitamin A, vitamin C and zinc
Research says that a diet rich in vitamin A, C and zinc can be quite helpful in treating eye infections in children. Vitamin A-rich diet (such as carrots and spinach) promotes the growth of healthy cells and also aids the body in fighting infections. In toddlers, intake of diet that is rich in zinc and vitamin C (such as citrus fruits, vegetables, fish and egg) helps in building immunity.
9. Saltwater solution
The best known and cheapest method to treat eye infection is with the use of saline water. This serves to be the easiest method as well. Saltwater solution can soothe the eyes. It cleans the eye of all impurities that would have been the cause behind the infection.
- To a pot of boiling water, add some salt.
- Allow it to cool down.
- Dip a cotton ball into this solution and place it over the eyelids,
- Use a fresh cotton ball each time you repeat this remedy.
Raw parsley juice mixed with carrot juice can be consumed to treat ailments connected to the eyes, such as pink eye. However, this method should also be used only for babies who are above the age of one.
11. Tea bag
Tea possesses antioxidant and antimicrobial properties. These qualities make tea worthwhile in treating eye infections. Tea bags are very efficient in soothing the pain caused due to the ailment.
- Dip the tea bag in warm water.
- Allow it to cool.
- Dipping in warm water and then letting it cool activates the constituents of tea.
- Place this tea bag on each eye.
- You can alternate between the eyes using the same tea bag.
12. Aloe vera
Aloe vera gel can be applied around the infected area once you begin to observe pink eye symptoms.
Take the juice directly from a broken leaf of the aloe plant.
- Place a few drops into each eye.
- Repeat this step at least two to three times daily.
13. Warm/cold compress
Eye compresses are very effective in getting rid of infections by clearing the sticky discharge.
You can either use a hot or cold compress. You can dip a washcloth in hot/cold water, squeeze and place it over the eyes. Use a separate cloth each time.
If you do not find the symptoms to lessen or in case the eye appears too irritated due to pain, you might need to approach the doctor at the earliest. The doctor might prescribe medication depending on the severity of the condition. Refrain from administering over-the-counter medications.
Precautions To Be Taken When Your Baby Has Pink Eye
- Rinse the eyes at frequent intervals.
- Do not allow the baby to rub the eyes.
- Avoid reusing towels, washcloths, etc. Wash and disinfect them first.
- Wash your hands before you touch the baby's eyes to administer drops, etc.
- Wash your child's hands often.
- Do not allow the child to share towels or pillows.
Check with the doctor if you can continue sending your child to the daycare/school. Some school authorities are strict with the rules about not letting a child attend school when there is a contagious infection. Maybe you should wait till the pink eye begins to heal and the child no longer has any form of eye discharge.
How Long Will It Last?
Although contagious, pink eye usually clears up on its own in about two weeks time (most of the time even without any particular medical treatment). However, bacterial conjunctivitis might require medical intervention as in severe cases, it can damage the eye if left untreated.