What causes toddler eye discharge? Eye discharge in children is mostly caused by cold, infection, and Conjunctivitis. The discharge usually appears as Sticky mucus which is normally green or yellow in color. Eye discharge associated with viral pink eye typically is clear and watery but may include a white or light yellow mucus component.
How does a toddler eye discharge look like?
Toddler eye discharge normally appears as a yellowish, sticky, crusty, substance that can sometimes make your eyes feel like they have been glued shut. It can be temporary—such as when you wake up in the morning—or persistent, in which case medical attention should be considered.
Usually, eye discharge is a harmless part of your body’s natural defense system, but some cases are serious. Eye discharge can be present in both children and adults, and it affects males and females equally.
Causes of eye discharge
For a parent, it can be very troubling to see the discharge coming from your child’s eyes, particularly when you have no clue as to what could be causing it. It is, therefore, always essential to take note of all the symptoms that your child has, regardless of how minute they may appear at the time. Normally, eye discharge is accompanied by a high fever.
The fever could have been caused by a viral or bacterial infection, in which case, the discharge could be the body’s way of getting to annihilate it. But, there is also a possibility that the child may be dealing with an allergic reaction. If you suspect that it could be because of an infection, you must make certain that the child is not allowed to touch his or her eyes, as this may cause the infection to spread to the other, while at the same time prolonging the symptoms already present. The causes of a toddler eye discharge include:
Allergies have been known to produce many varying symptoms in a toddler, which may include red eyes, sneezing, and eye discharge. Being the parent, it will be your responsibility to establish where the allergies are coming from because if they are not treated in time, they could cause your child to develop chronic sinusitis.
If you cannot figure out the source of this allergies, the best course of action is to get an appointment with the pediatrician. Your baby’s pediatrician may prescribe an antihistamine, which would assist in treating the symptoms already present. If a fever is already present, this will rule out an allergic reaction, leaving you with either the bacterial or viral infections.
2. Sinus Infection
Sinus infections are also known as sinusitis may be the reason why your baby has that yellow, green, or sticky mucus-like discharge. For a sinus infection, you have to be on the lookout for additional symptoms that could include:
- Sinus pain
In case you find that one or more of the eye discharge symptoms mentioned above are present, schedule a consultation with the baby’s pediatrician. For the time being, it will be a wise thing to ensure that your child is hydrated at all times. Additionally, you should take note of the discharge color coming from the eyes, as the pediatrician will want to more about it, including when you first noticed it.
3. Common cold
The common cold is one of the causes of eye discharge in infants. When the child is sick with the flu or cold, there is always a chance that they will have a green or yellow discharge coming from their eyes. It, therefore, makes sense to start paying attention to the symptoms your child manifests with different conditions from a very early age. The information you have in your possession enables the pediatrician to come up with a viable treatment course.
The discharge or pus that you are seeing in the baby’s eyes may be caused by many varying factors such as viral infections, which typically present with colds, irritants, seasonal allergies, or bacterial infections, which pose a more serious threat.
Conjunctivitis (viral) tends to be very contagious and occurs due to viruses such as the herpes simplex virus or the common cold virus. When the eye discharge in your toddler has been caused by conjunctivitis (the pink eye), it will be clear, and watery in nature. However, there are situations where it could consist of a whitish or light yellowish mucus component.
There are two types of viral conjunctivitis as mentioned below:
- Allergic conjunctivitis—this particular type gets triggered by allergens that may be present in your house or even in the air e.g. dust, pollen, and dander. Additionally, it may also come about when your child has an allergic reaction to eye drops, makeup, or chemical pollutants present in clothes and other household items.
Neonatal conjunctivitis—it mainly targets newborn babies who are less than twenty-eight years old. Most of its cases are not very serious. There are cases of neonatal conjunctivitis that come about as a result of the mother having an STI e.g. gonorrhea or chlamydia. Normally, it does not cause any symptoms on the baby’s mother, and as such, she may not even be aware that she is already infected.
Yellow eye discharge in toddlers
A yellow eye discharge in toddlers often occurs when a child has a bacterial infection. The causes of the yellow discharge or pus may be caused by a variety of factors:
1. Normal discharge
It occurs when there is a trifling volume of dry items that are present in the corner of the baby’s eye. In certain cases, it may not even be pus or discharge as there are a number of mucus collections, which tend to be cream colored.
It can be caused by an irritant that entered the eye because of handling the baby with hands that are not clean. For this, no treatment is needed, and all you have to do is wash it off using some warm water.
2. Presence of a foreign body in the eyes
There is always a chance that small particle materials may get blown into your child’s eye e.g. sawdust, sand, or dust. When this happens, the grit ends up being stuck under the child’s upper eyelid. If you do not notice it in time and have it removed, the eye will react by producing a discharge. One way to know that there is something stuck in the eye is when it fails to react to the administration of antibiotic eye drops.
3. Blocked tear ducts
Blocked tear ducts are common in ten percent of all newborns, according to Mayo Clinic. One way to know that the ducts are blocked is to check whether the eyes are watery or not, especially if it occurs when the child is not crying. Additionally, with a blocked duct, the eyelid does not become swollen, and it does not turn reddish as well.
Green discharge from the eye
Toddler eye discharge may be brought about by a number of conditions. Your child may wake up in the morning, only to find that he or she has debris accumulated in their nasal regions, which are located in the eyelids.
Often, it is caused by the collection of tear components that may have gathered in a single place while the baby was sleeping. You should be concerned when excessive amounts of the discharge start to present. Additionally, any green discharge from the eye that is accompanied by eye pain or vision changes should be evaluated immediately. Common causes of a green discharge include:
1. Eye infection
Presence of too much discharge in one or both eyes may be an indication that the child has an ocular infection. A bacterial infection will normally present itself in form of a thick, greenish-looking discharge, accompanied by eye pain and redness. For a bacterial eye infection, it will be vital to ensure that you get timely treatment to guarantee that you will not get permanent visual related problems.
2. Ocular allergies
An allergic reaction could be the instigating factor for an eye discharge. It is something that can occur due to seasonal allergies or being exposed to certain animals. certain medications cause this kind of reactions, while some people could also be sensitive to the use of certain materials or chemicals.
Individuals suffering from an ocular allergy will often report noticing a stringy mucus like discharge, which is clear or whitish in color. Allergies are also normally associated with itchy eyes. You should, therefore, avoid rubbing your eyes in an attempt to relieve the itchiness, as you will only end up making the situation worse.
3. Dry eye syndrome
Dry eye syndrome is the condition where your eyes are unable to produce enough tears to nourish and lubricate the eyes, according to The American Optometric Association. Abnormalities associated with this syndrome may result in eye-watering, discharge, as well as debris collecting along your eyelids. For people with this syndrome, their major complaint is having eyes that are sandy, scratchy, or gritty.
Sticky toddler eye mucus discharge
This kind of discharge is often caused by allergic conjunctivitis. It affects the lining of your child’s eyelid together with the white eye part, which is referred to as conjunctiva.
The condition comes about when a child is exposed to pollen, mold, dander, all of which are substances known to cause allergic reactions in both babies and adults.
Traditionally, allergies tend to run through family lines, which makes it difficult to know the kind of allergy that you may have, until you experience a reaction. When you come across something that you could be allergic to, your conjunctiva will release histamines, and this will result in itchiness and swelling.
This particular condition could also be accompanied by:
- Dilated eye vessels that are visible in the conjunctiva
- Red eyes
- Intense burning
- Puffy eyelids in the mornings
Remedies and treatment for eye discharge in babies
Having determined what is causing the toddler eye discharge, you can try out the following remedies and treatments to get rid of this problem.
Antibiotic ointment (prescribed)
If your toddler is diagnosed with an infection such as conjunctivitis by the pediatrician, there is a high chance that an ointment could be prescribed for your toddler. For infants, the ointment prescribed tends to have an oil-like consistency.
When applying this ointment, you need to apply it in accordance with the instructions that were provided by the physician. Additionally, the eyes should be dry and clean for it to be effective. With ointments, you are required to apply it on the eyelids i.e. coating the lower and upper parts of the eyelid, as opposed to applying it inside the eye, which is done with eye drops.
OTC eye drops
You can purchase all kinds of eye drops from your local drugstore. There are those that help with allergies, while others are meant to assist with hydration matters.
Ensure that you consult the pharmacist before you can start making use of any eye drop that has not been prescribed by a pediatrician. Enquire which eye drops are ideal for the toddler and which ones should not be used on toddlers that are not of a certain age.
You also need to ensure that the eyes are clean and dry. Put these eye drops into the eyes in accordance with the instructions that have been provided on the packaging. If possible, target the inner eyeball part.
Ensure that the toddler’s eyes are clean and that they do not have any pus or discharge
When dealing with toddler eye discharge, the best thing you can do for your young one is to ensure that the eyes remain clean at all times.
You can clean them using mild soap and water, taking care to ensure that the soap will not get into the eyes as it could hurt your child. When the eyes are clean, the child does not get the constant urge to rub them, as rubbing them will make the infection to spread from one eye to the other.
Use a warm compress
When dealing with an eye infection, it is always recommended that you make frequent use of warm and sterile compresses. The compress will ensure the eyes remain clean, will eliminate irritation as well as slow down the swelling process. In addition, the compress is recommended as prevents the condition from becoming worse.
Obtain some clean, soft cloths, which you will then need to douse in warm water. Use the cloth to rub the baby’s eyes gently until they become clean. Take care to ensure that you do not rub ferociously or too hard as this may make the situation worse. Try and do this each night before putting the baby to sleep.
Disinfect and quarantine the child to ensure that the infection does not spread to other babies
Remember that many eye infections tend to be contagious, and as such, you have to make sure that you follow the correct disinfecting protocols as well as maintain high standards of cleanliness.
A simple slip-up could lead to other members of your family getting the same infection. The following tips will come in handy when cleaning and instituting quarantine measures in your residence. You need to:
- Clean your blankets, linens, towels, and pillows as well as the towels being used by your child. Make certain that any item that may come into contact with the toddler’s eyes or hands is clean.
- Let the child stay at home, ensuring that you keep him or her out of daycare and school to avoid spreading the infection to other toddlers.
- Ensure your hands are clean by disinfecting them with antibacterial soap. You should also disinfect all the stuffed animals and toys used by your child when playing.
With the right medication and treatment, the toddler eye discharge problem should go away within a few days. If this does not happen, go back to the pediatrician.
Other methods of getting rid of toddler eye discharge
Depending on the cause of eye discharge, there are different types of treatments available. Some of which can be performed at home and others may require the patient to visit a doctor. If the condition is severe, ask the doctor about the antibiotics or antibiotic eye drops to reduce the symptoms.
There are various home remedies for toddler eye discharge. These remedies include:
- Avoid touching the eyes. Touching your eyes worsens the infection and spreads it too.
- Clean your hands regularly. Keep your hands clean and wash them frequently especially if you have pink eye as it is contagious.
- Take off your contacts. Remove your contact lenses when you notice an eye discharge and switch to disposable contacts which are safer.
- Discard eye makeup. Mascara and eyeliner should be avoided when you have an eye infection.
- Remove irritants. Reduce your exposure to allergens.
- Apply warm compresses. Warm compresses help relieve the symptoms accompanied by eye infections such as itching. You can unglue your eyelids by placing a wet, warm washcloth over the eye for a few minutes and wipe the gunk as well.
- SafeSymptoms Staff. (2017). Toddler eye discharge: Top 4 causes: https://safesymptoms.com/toddler-eye-discharge/
- Aimee Surtenich. (n.d) Eye Discharge: http://www.allaboutvision.com/conditions/itchy-eyes.htm
- Seattle Children’s Hospital. (n.d). Eye pus or discharge: http://www.seattlechildrens.org/medical-conditions/symptom-index/eye-pus-or-discharge/
- Anthony E. Fox. (2011, September 17). Causes of green mucus in the eye: http://www.livestrong.com/article/144856-causes-of-green-mucus-in-the-eye/
- Heidi Laney. (n.d). Toddler eye discharge: https://www.medhealthdaily.com/toddler-eye-discharge/