Conjunctivitis in Toddlers: Symptoms, Treatment and Prevention


Conjunctivitis is an eye infection also known as Pink eye. It is due to inflammation of membrane lining the eyes and lids (conjunctiva).


Causes of Conjunctivitis



produces a watery discharge from the eyes and is usually associated with cold.


produces a thicker, yellowish green discharge is usually associated with sore throat.


caused by allergen like shampoo, pollen, dust mites, grass, or animal dander.


caused by irritants like air pollution, chlorine in pool or smoke.

Pink eye due to Viral and Bacterial infection is contagious while due to Allergens and Irritants is non-contagious

Ophthalmia neonatorum

is neonatal conjunctivitis, presents during the first month of life. It is a bacterial, chlamydia or viral infection acquired during passage through an infected birth canal.


Signs and Symptoms

Symptoms of conjunctivitis in babies and toddlers may vary depending on the severity and type of infection:

Viral infection

  • Pink eye (one or both)
  • Watery eye
  • Burning sensation in eye
  • Child having cold or adenovirus (causes sore throat, chest cold and fever)

Bacterial infection

  • Pink eye (one or both)
  • Yellow or green discharge from eye
  • Burning sensation in eye
  • Child having an ear infection


  • Red and teary eyes
  • A stuffy or runny nose
  • Itchy nose


  • Puffy eyelids
  • Red and teary eyes
  • After being in contact with irritants (air pollution, chlorine in pool or smoke)


Treatments for conjunctivitis in babies and toddlers


Viral infection

Viral infection will go on its own in few days, and no medication is required. Keep your child’s eye clean and apply cool packs.

Your doctor will prescribe a soothing lubricant and recommend steps to avoid spreading the infection.

Bacterial infection

Your doctor will treat bacterial conjunctivitis with antibiotic eye drops or ointments.


Your doctor will prescribe antihistamine eye drops to reduce inflammation. It is easier to know the allergens causing allergic pink eye and avoid them.


Rinse your child’s eye immediately if she comes in contact with an irritant causing pink eye. If needed your doctor will prescribe eye drops.


Please consult an eye doctor before starting any medication for your child and don’t buy over the counter eye drops.

If you find it difficult to put eye drop into your child’s eyes, drop it in the corner of eyes. The drops will naturally flow into your child’s eye when she opens it.

In case of ointment, apply it to the sides of your child’s eye. It will melt gradually and make its way into the eye.


Preventing the spread of Conjunctivitis

  • Good hygiene is the best preventive measure against spread of pink eye.
  • Conjunctivitis can be highly contagious ask your child to wash their hands often.
  • Wipe your child’s eye with clean tissue or towel and wash your hands every time you touch your child’s eye.
  • Try to use disposable tissue or cotton ball instead of towel and handkerchief.
  • If your child has only one eye infected use separate tissue or cotton ball to wipe the infected eye else it will spread in both the eyes.
  • Wash her towels, clothes and bed linens separately in hot water.
  • Pink eye due to allergen and irritant can be prevented by avoiding coming in contact with allergen and irritant causing it.
  • Pinkeye in new-born can be prevented by screening and treating pregnant woman for STDs.
  • Inform your child’s day-care center in case she is infected so that they can disinfect the place and keep her at home till she recovers completely.
  • Keep your toddler away from anybody having conjunctivitis.


Consult the Doctor

If your child develops pink eye consult your doctor to determine the cause and plan the course of treatment.

Keep your child at home, if she has viral or bacterial pink eye to avoid it from spreading to other children at the preschool and day-care center.


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