Pink Eye Symptoms in Babies

By Prev Info - February 18, 2022

If your baby's eyes are red and itchy, it could be pinkeye. Pinkeye is redness and swelling of the conjunctiva, which is the membrane that lines the eyelids and surface of the eye. As annoying as pinkeye can be, it usually isn't serious or too worrisome, unless it's contracted by a newborn. Always consult with a health care provider before attempting to diagnose pinkeye.

Pink Eye Symptoms in Babies


There are different types of pinkeye, each with its own set of different--though still somewhat similar--symptoms. Pinkeye is often caused by a bacterial or viral infection, but it can also be caused by allergies or irritants. Newborns often have a blocked tear duct that produces similar symptoms to pinkeye but is normal and not any type of infection.


The most common symptom of pinkeye is redness of the eye and inner eyelid. Your baby may have yellow or green discharge in the corner of the eyes. This discharge may crust and harden, causing your baby's eyelids to stick together after a nap. You may notice your baby is especially sensitive to bright light and will appear generally uncomfortable. For viral conjunctivitis, your baby will have some of these symptoms plus symptoms of a cold. If bacteria is the culprit, your baby's eyes will continue to produce a thick discharge. Allergies, though uncommon for babies under 1, will cause your baby to have a runny nose, and the eyes will appear red, swollen and will be itchy. Pink eye symptoms vary based on your baby and the cause of the infection.


Newborn babies are especially susceptible to contracting pinkeye and, if left untreated or undiagnosed, pinkeye can lead to serious health problems. If you suspect your newborn has pinkeye, talk to a health care provider right away. Eye drops given at birth may cause pinkeye.


Wash your baby's hands often with mild soap and water to prevent pinkeye. If your baby has pinkeye, you need a doctor to diagnose the cause and decide whether treatment is necessary. Bacterial and allergic conjunctivitis will clear up on its own, but an antibiotic ointment or drops are necessary to treat bacterial conjunctivitis. With any type of pinkeye, you can help your baby feel better by administering acetaminophen or ibuprofen and wiping discharge off the eye with a warm washcloth to prevent the eyelids from sticking together. Make sure to isolate anything baby touches from other family members to prevent pinkeye from spreading throughout your household. All strains of pinkeye, except for the kind caused by allergies, are highly contagious.

Time Frame

Pink eye symptoms usually go away two to three days after treatment. If no treatment is used, symptoms usually clear up within a week.