When your child has an eye problem, it can be distressing for both you and the child. Since little babies can’t tell you what hurts or what is wrong, it is important to watch out for signs of a swollen eye in babies. Some symptoms might include swollen eyelids, tearing, discharge, or redness. Once you notice problems like this, get in touch with your child’s doctor to ensure that your baby gets the proper care as soon as possible.

Causes of Swollen Eyes in Babies

Sometimes a swollen eye in babies isn’t a big deal at alland will quickly go away. But in other cases, the situation is more serious. Here are a few of the things that can cause swollen eyes in babies:

1. Crying and Sleeping

When your baby goes on a serious crying jag, he or she might wind up with puffy eyes. It’s just as if you were crying for a long period of time—your eyes would become puffy and swollen, too. These puffy eyes are caused by a larger amount of blood flowing through the area, and when your baby calms down, the puffiness will dissipate. A baby who sleeps in an awkward position or for extended periods of time might wake up with puffy and swollen eyes. This is also true if a baby doesn’t sleep well or has a rough night. Just like adults, babies can look awful the next day, with swollen eyes (and maybe an annoyed attitude).

2. Allergy

Allergies have been known to cause all sorts of problems, and swollen eyes is one of them. When your baby is a newborn, drops are put into his or her eyes at the hospital to help prevent infections; these drops can make your baby’s eyes swell for the first few days. Other irritants that might cause a problem include cigarette smoke, pet dander, pollenand antibiotics. Sometimes a child can develop an allergy rather quickly, so consider what they might have been exposed to recently.

3. Blocked Tear Duct

This occurs in up to 20 percent of newborns within the first few weeks after birthand can result in an eye that looks red, crusty and swollen. This often happens because the drainage system for tears is not yet mature in infants,so anything in those ducts that gets backed up will result in swelling and irritation. The most common sign is crusting on the eyelashes and eyelids, especially right after the child wakes up from a nap. Fortunately, this is very easy to treat.

4. Sty & Chalazion

If your child has a tender red lump on the eyelid, it could be a sty. It occurs right along the edge of the eyelid and can become swollen and painful. Sometimes it also occurs inside the eyelid. Most stys are painful and annoying, but fortunately they go away on their own within a few days.

Chalazion is a lump on the eyelid, similar to a sty. This problem is larger than a sty, however, and it typically doesn’t hurt at all. Just like a sty, a chalazion will go away on its own if left alone.

5. Eye Injuries

If your child suffers any sort of trauma to the eye or the area around it, swelling can occur. This might take the form of a black eye, inflammation, swollen eyes, redness, and the like. Sometimes a child who has suffered some sort of head injury will also have swollen eyes.

Moreover, newborn babies tend to have longish fingernails. During those first few days of life, they might scratch their eyes and the area around it. Sometimes this can lead to a corneal abrasion which occurs when the child scratches the eyes with a fingernail.

6. Blepharitis

The eyelid has oil gland, and sometimes those become blocked and inflamed. The result is blephartitis which is most evident during the morning hours after a night’s sleep. The signs include swollen eyelids, crusting on the eyelashes, tenderness of the eyelids, and the feeling that there is something in the eye-your baby might constantly try to rub it out.

7. Neonatal Conjunctivitis

Sometimes a baby can contract an infection from the other at birth, leading to an eye problem known as bacterial conjunctivitis. This problem often shows itself with red and puffy eyes, and significant drainage. The most common causes of this problem are Chlamydia and gonorrhea, though herpes can also cause it as well.

However, keep in mind that swollen and puffy eyes or even red spots on the white part of the eyes are normal after birth. This type of swollen eye in babies will go away after a few days.

What Can I Do about Swollen Eyes in Babies?

In most cases, the problem will resolve on its own, especially if the redness and swelling occurs in the first few days after birth. For problems that linger, there are some easy solutions.

1. Keep Eyes Clean

Always keep the eye area clean with a wet washcloth and warm water. It might help to apply a cool or cold washcloth to the eye that is affected. Remember to wash your baby’s hair every night, as it might catch pet dander or pollen that could then irritate the eyes.

2. Watch for Hand Hygiene

It might seem daunting to clip those tiny nails, but it’s a good thing to do, because it helps prevent scratches to your baby’s eyes. Keep their nails clippedand their hands fresh and clean. And it’s better to avoid any germs that might linger on their little fingertips.

3. Cool down the Swelling Area

There are many ways to cool down the area with redness. Try using a cool washclothas mentioned above. You can also use moistened and cooled teabags, or cooled cucumber slices, especially as your baby is sleeping. When you cool down the eye area, it constricts the blood vessels, thus leading to less swelling.

4. Seek Medical Attention 

If none of these easy home remedies work, it’s time to get medical attention as there could be an infection that requires antibiotics to clear up. The doctor might prescribe eye drops, ointments, or some other medication that can relieve the itching, redness and swelling.Remember to never give your child over the counter medications without first consulting your doctor.