Eye infections in kids are extremely common, and a child can suffer from repeated bouts during their childhood. Pinkeye—or conjunctivitis—is by far the most common condition and can be easily spread at day centers, kindergartens, and junior schools.
The majority of eye infections can be easily treated at home, but if you are worried, it always makes sense to ask your doctor for help. In the case of newborns, it is still worth getting suspected eye infections checked by your doctor as they can lead to more severe conditions if not treated properly. In this post, we will take a closer look at the most common eye infections in kids and the things you can do to help your child when they get one.
Conjunctivitis is a widespread eye infection among people of all ages. Due to its highly contagious nature, it can quickly spread around preschools and junior schools. When adults get a case of pink eye, they will grab the eye drops and resist the urge to itch. However, younger kids will often rub and itch their eyes. After that, they may put their hands on door handles, books, and pens that they share with other kids.
Conjunctivitis can be caused by bacteria or a virus, similar to the ones that cause the common cold. A child is at a higher risk of developing symptoms if they have had a recent bout of the common cold or flu.
Bacteria can be passed on to newborns during birth, while older children may get pink eye due to allergies. Some causes of pink eye include:
- Bacteria—Staphylococcus aureus, Haemophilus influenzae, Chlamydia trachomatis
- Viruses—adenoviruses and herpes virus
- Chemicals in newborn eye drops
Symptoms of Pink Eye
If a child has conjunctivitis, then the most common symptom is a redness in the white of the eye. If your child is speaking, then they may complain about discomfort or feel that they have something in their eye. In younger children, if they are unsettled or continuously rubbing their eyes, then they may have an eye infection. Other things to look out for include:
- Watery eyes
- Swelling around the eyes or eyelids
- Discharge from the eyes
- Sensitivity to bright lights
Most kids will feel the desire to itch their sore eyes, but this should be avoided.
Other Types of Eye Infections In Kids
While pink eye is the leading culprit, conditions such as cellulitis can be more serious. Cellulitis can occur in kids that have had an eye injury or have sinus problems. This infection will usually have more severe symptoms than pink eye, such as fever, pain, and eye bulging. If these symptoms show up together, then you should contact your doctor immediately.
Kids may also suffer from sties or infections in the tear ducts.
Your doctor will want to determine the cause of the eye infection before starting any treatment. Bacterial conjunctivitis can be treated with a course of antibiotic eye drops, which can be challenging administering to kids! Your doctor or pharmacist will give you advice on how to use them. If the eye infection is viral, then it will usually clear up by itself, but warm compresses and eye drops can reduce the symptoms. Anti-allergy medicine will help to alleviate the symptoms if it is down to allergies.
In all cases, it is usually best to keep your child at home until the symptoms have cleared up.