Toddlers’ immune systems are in a stage of infancy which makes them catch infections really quickly. Pink eye or conjunctivitis is a common eye infection that affects toddlers when they get exposed to allergens, viruses and bacteria and result in inflammation of the lining on eyeballs and inner eyelids.
This condition most often appears in toddlers with flu like symptoms such as redness in the cornea, swelling around the lash line accompanied with clear, yellow or green coloured discharge deposited on the eyelids along with colds.
Your toddler may also complain of the presence of a grit like substance in their eyes. If your child exhibits all of the above symptoms with fever, it becomes necessary to get him treated at the earliest to prevent the possibility of this infection from turning into a secondary infection like meningitis if it spreads to other parts of the body.
Causes of Pink Eye in Toddlers
There are many different factors that prompt the onset of pink eye in toddlers. These include bacteria and viruses that cause infections of ear, sinuses, throat and colds in toddlers.
Pink eye in toddlers may also arise from allergy to dust, pollen, mould, pet dander, smoke, pollution and chlorinated water present in their surroundings.
Taking into consideration all these factors, this condition is classified into four different forms – Bacterial Conjunctivitis, Viral Conjunctivitis, Allergic Conjunctivitis and Non-infectious Conjunctivitis.
Bacterial Conjunctivitis results from exposure to several types of bacteria like staphylococcus and streptococcus. Mucus drainage, redness and burning sensation in the eyes are observed in pink eye caused by bacteria. Bacterial conjunctivitis is a highly contagious eye infection that spreads easily and takes about a week to clear on its own. Anti-biotic drops and eye ointments are prescribed to relieve the symptoms.
Viral Conjunctivitis is triggered by adenovirus or another more serious herpes simplex virus. This type of infection can spread from one person to another and appears with redness in the cornea, watery discharge from the eyes and sensitivity to light. Viral conjunctivitis usually resolves on its own without any treatment.
Allergic Conjunctivitis is caused by hypersensitivity to allergens like dust, pollen and mould. Symptoms include itchiness in eyes, eyelid oedema, stringy or clear discharge and rhinitis. This type of eye infection is treated with antihistamines and eye drops to control the inflammation in the eyes. Allergic conjunctivitis is not contagious.
The non-infectious pink eye is inflammation caused by external irritants like perfume, smoke, pet dander, chemicals and pollution. This type of conjunctivitis presents with symptoms similar to allergic conjunctivitis and does not spread from one person to another. There is no need for any medication to treat non-infectious conjunctivitis and the symptoms clear up on their own if one stays away from factors that trigger its occurrence.
11 Best Natural Remedies for Pink Eye in Toddlers
Conjunctivitis in children can aggravate if proper hygiene is not adopted. It is crucial to lay instructions for your toddlers regarding hygiene.
Tell them to wash their hands several times a day, refrain from sharing their personal items like towels and handkerchiefs with other people and touching their eyes to minimize the chances of the infection to spread to the other eye or other children.
If your child suffers from a bout of viral cold make sure that he covers his mouth and nose while sneezing or coughing to stop the virus from spreading.
Mild conjunctivitis in toddlers can be managed effectively by adopting natural methods to ease the discomfort and pain that arises with this eye condition.
A diet rich in vitamins C, B and proteins coupled with sufficient intake of fluids is recommended to boost healing during the course of the illness.
If you notice serious symptoms such as deepened redness in the cornea, severe inflammation on the eyelids and fever, it’s important to get your child examined and treated by a physician at the earliest to prevent the chances of a secondary infection.
Here are some natural ways to lessen the discomfort associated with pink eye in toddlers.
1. Warm or Cold Compress
The inflammation on the eyes and the pain resulting from it can be reduced by applying warmth on the affected area. Warm compresses are a great option for those suffering from bacterial or viral pink eye. Allergic conjunctivitis responds better to cold compresses.
While applying warm or cold compresses make sure that your hands are clean and use a separate compress for both eyes so the infection on one eye does not aggravate the infection in the other eye.
2. Saline Rinse
Salt water rinse significantly reduces the swelling on the eyes and helps in loosening any built up discharge on the eyelashes. Make a solution of two to three pinches of clean salt and a half litre of clean boiled water and let it cool.
While making this solution make sure that none of the ingredients and the solution come in contact with germs by any means. Dip sterile cotton pads in the solution and place it over your toddler’s eyes for a couple of minutes and then wipe the eyes clean.
3. Chrysanthemum Flower Tea
Putting herbal tea (check it on Amazon) bags is another natural alternative to relieve the discomfort in your toddlers’ inflamed eyes. This tea helps in reducing redness and puffiness on the eyelids. Submerge two chrysanthemum flower tea bags briefly in a little warm water and place the bags over inflamed eyes for ten minutes. You can also use tea made from dried chrysanthemum blossoms as a cold compress to soothe the inflamed eyes in case the tea bags are not available.
Honey (check it on Amazon) has miraculous abilities to fight harmful bacteria and viruses. Eye drops made from Manuka honey are widely used to treat eye infections in children and adults alike.
Dissolve 3/4th tbsp of Manuka honey in half cup of distilled boiled water and store this solution in a sterile container with a dropper for not more than a week. Put one to two drops of this solution in each eye to cure inflammation in the eyes.
Alternatively, you can use this solution as a compress to get rid of inflammation and discolouration on the eyelids.
5. Coffee Rinse
Eyewash made from coffee helps immensely in relieving symptoms related to the pink eye. It’s a great way to freshen up your toddler’s infected eyes. Coffee has a high caffeine and anti-oxidant content which help in preventing dry eyes by providing moisture to the eyes.
Boil a few pinches of coffee powder in a cup of distilled water. When the liquid cools down to room temperature, dip a clean washcloth in it and rinse your toddler’s eyes three to four times a day to minimize swelling.
6. Aloe Vera
Aloe vera gel brings considerable relief in symptoms of conjunctivitis in children. It has anti-bacterial and anti-viral compounds which help in treating the infection in the eyes. Blend equal parts of aloe Vera gel and sterile water and use the solution as an eye wash for your toddler’s eyes. Aloe Vera juice can be used as a cold compress to heal inflammation at the corners of eyes.
Turmeric is an age-old remedy for treating all sorts of infections resulting from allergies, bacteria and viruses. The high curcumin content of turmeric helps in lifting away inflammation and soreness in the eyes if applied topically. Prepare a solution of one teaspoon turmeric powder and one cup cooled boiled water. Soak a washcloth in this liquid and place it over the eyes to control the infection.
8. Boric Acid
Boric acid (check it on Amazon) eyewash helps tremendously in soothing inflammation and other symptoms relating to the pink eye. Make a solution by dissolving a half teaspoon of boric acid in a cup of warm boiled water. Use this solution to wash the infected area around the eyes once or twice in a day.
9. Coconut Oil
Pure coconut oil (check it on Amazon) is another highly effective cure for pink eye in toddlers. This oil has a multitude of anti-microbial qualities which help in controlling redness and inflammation in the blood vessels in the eyes.
Applying this oil on the lashes and eyelids helps in preventing a build-up of sticky discharge around the eyes and soothes inflammation. Dip a clean cotton ball in virgin coconut oil and cleanse the outer and inner corners of the eyes.
Raw potato has anti-bacterial and astringent qualities which help in controlling inflammation and itching that stems from the pink eye in children. Peel a small sized potato and wash it with boiled water. Wash your hands with anti-bacterial soap and grate the potato. Wrap grated potato in a clean cheesecloth and place the poultice over the eyes for ten minutes. Apply a little pressure on to the poultice to release potato juice. Wash the eyes with warm water.
11. Colloidal Silver
Colloidal silver (check it on Amazon) has been used as a remedy for treating eye infections in babies since ancient times, much before the introduction of antibiotics. It’s a great cure for pink eye that stems from bacterial and viral outbreaks.
Place a drop of this liquid at the inner corners of your kids’ eyes to get relief from stinging and inflammation. Caution must be exercised while using this method regarding the dosage and duration. This treatment should not be performed for more than two days on young children.
Written by – Harvey Lee is a health and beauty blogger and works with various industry leading health and beauty product brands e.g. EyeSoothe: UK’s leading Eye Mask brand for various eye issues including Blepharitis, MGD, Dry eye syndrome and more. Harvey strongly recommends seeking physician opinion before replacing medication with natural or other non-clinical remedies.