Baby Red Around Eyes: Causes, Home Remedies, And Treatment

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Babies have delicate eyes that may get irritated easily (1) Irritated eyes may present as redness around the baby’s eyes or itching in the eyes. For most children, the redness subsides by itself without any medical intervention. However, it is important to contact your child’s pediatrician if you notice any other signs of eye irritation, such as watery eyes or sticky discharge.

Read this post to learn more about the causes, home remedies, and treatment for redness around the baby’s eyes.

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:

  1. 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 for concern and can probably resolve by itself.
  1. 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.
  1. 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. According to the Centers For Disease Control And Prevention (CDC), it may be caused due to irritation or a blocked tear duct and leads to eye discharge (4).
  1. 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.
  1. 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.
  1. 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.
  1. 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.
  • 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.

Besides these, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends avoiding direct contact with your child’s eyes or the eye discharge until redness in and around the eyes is clear (7).

Treatment For Redness Around Baby’s Eyes

If the redness around the eyes persists, it is advisable to consult your doctor at the earliest. Some of the probable treatment measures are as follows (8) (9):

  • 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 in cases of cellulitis

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.

Infographic: Baby Eye Care Tips

Your baby’s eyes are sensitive, and they need good care for proper vision development. Check out these simple yet effective baby eye care tips to help avert eye problems in babies. Save this infographic and share it with every new mom you know.

simple tips for baby eye care [infographic]
Illustration: MomJunction Design Team

Key Pointers

  • Vigorous eye rubbing, allergies, conjunctivitis, sty, etc., are some reasons children may have redness around their eyes.
  • Warm compresses, moisturizers, and mild soaps help manage redness around a baby’s eyes.
  • Your doctor might prescribe antibiotics, probe surgeries, etc., based on the underlying cause to treat redness around the eyes.

References:

MomJunction's articles are written after analyzing the research works of expert authors and institutions. Our references consist of resources established by authorities in their respective fields. You can learn more about the authenticity of the information we present in our editorial policy.
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Sanjana Bhattacharjee

Sanjana did her post graduation in Applied Microbiology from Vellore Institute of Technology, India. Her interest in science and health, combined with her passion to write made her convert from a scientist to a writer. She believes her role at MomJunction combines the best of both worlds as she writes health-based content based on scientific evidence. Sanjana is trained in classical... more

Dr. Garima Garg Seth

(MD)
Dr. Garima Garg Seth is a well-known pediatrician in Gurgaon, having more than 19 years of experience in this field. She has completed her education from topmost organizations in India, including AIIMS, New Delhi; Sir Ganga Ram Hospital, New Delhi; and CMC Vellore. She headed the pediatric ICU of Max Hospital Gurgaon for six years.  Dr. Seth is a strong... more