Toddler Eye Discharge: Top 4 Causes

As a parent, seeing toddler eye discharge can be troubling. In this article, we’ll talk about the potential causes.

It’s important to pay attention to all symptoms that your child is having. Typically, discharge from the eyes will be accompanied by a fever.

This is most likely due to a bacterial or viral infection, and this is the body’s way of getting rid of it. It’s also possible that your toddler is experiencing allergies.

If it’s an infection, it’s important that you don’t allow your child to touch their eyes. Otherwise, this could cause the infection to spread and prolong their symptoms.

Also, if you’re the one who’s infected, then it’s very important that you don’t spread it to your child (eye infections are very contagious!).

Below we’ll talk about 4 potential causes of this symptom.

Cause 1: Allergies

Allergies can produce a variety of symptoms in your toddler, including eye discharge. They may also have uncontrollable sneezing and red eyes.

As a parent, it’s your job to find the source of the allergy. If left untreated, allergies can eventually cause chronic sinusitis.

We recommend scheduling an appointment with your pediatrician. They’ll likely prescribe an OTC antihistamine to treat your child’s symptoms.

If your toddler also has a fever, then it’s probably NOT allergies they’re experiencing. In this case, it’s probably a viral or bacterial infection.

Cause 2: Sinus Infection

Another possibility for toddler eye discharge is a sinus infection. Be on the lookout for additional symptoms like sinus pain, congestion, and fever.

If one or more of these symptoms are present, then meet with your child’s pediatrician as soon as possible.

In the meantime, keep your toddler hydrated and give them OTC medication that’s approved for their age.

Take note of the color of the discharge that’s existing from their eye. This will come in handy if your doctor asks for it.

It can be difficult to distinguish between a sinus infection and a cold, so don’t try to “wait it out”.

Cause 3: Viral Conjunctivitis

Viral conjunctivitis is a contagious infection that’s caused by the adenovirus. Aside from toddler eye discharge, it can also cause tearing, itching, and redness.

The good news is that there are virus-specific treatments available. These include:

  • Idoxuridine Solution
  • Trifluridine Solution
  • Ganciclovir
  • Vidarabine Ointment

To prevent the virus from replicating itself, the pediatrician may prescribe acyclovir.

To prevent viral conjunctivitis in your child in the future, you’ll need to be proactive. For instance, wash your hands and your child’s hands frequently.

Also, encourage your toddler to not rub their eyes. This is a big risk factor for getting viral conjunctivitis.

Cause 4: Bacterial Conjunctivitis

There are many bacteria that can cause bacterial conjunctivitis. Symptoms include toddler eye discharge, irritation, and hyperemia.

The best way to treat it is with antibiotics. Once on an antibiotic regimen, your child’s symptom should begin to clear within 7-10 days. In some children, it can clear faster.

Preventing bacterial conjunctivitis is the same as preventing viral conjunctivitis – keep you and your child’s hands clean, and don’t allow them to touch their eyes. That will go a long way towards preventing an infection.

Remedies For Toddler Eye Discharge

Here are a few home remedies you can try:

  • Keep the Eye Clean: Using a washcloth and warm water, try to keep your toddler’s eye clean. Remove any pus that you see. Remember that if you’re using topical medication, it will work better if the eye is clean.
  • Use Eye Drops as Directed: Your pediatrician will probably prescribe a topical antibiotic in the form of eye drops. Use them as directed. If you skip an eye drop session, then you may give the bacteria a chance to come back.
  • Don’t Allow Eye Touching: Your toddler’s eye discharge might cause them to want to rub their eyes to relive the burning. Don’t allow this. If you do, the infection may spread and become worse. Keep their hands away from their eyes.

Following these tips can help your child heal faster.

Antibiotic Ointment (Prescribed)

Your child’s pediatrician might also prescribe them an antibiotic ointment. This ointment will have a gel-like consistency that will need to be applied daily.

By using as directed, it should help lessen your toddler’s eye discharge and additional symptoms.

Note, antibiotic ointments are applied differently than antibiotic drops. Make sure that you use as directed.

Eye Discharge – What to Know

Believe it or not, normal eye discharge is a good thing. It’s required for optimal eye health. Without normal discharge, your child’s eyes would dry out. They need it to keep their eyes lubricated between blinks.

During a bacterial or viral infection, eye discharge is produced in larger amounts, leading to burning and discomfort.

Bacterial infections usually cause thick yellow drainage or creamy white drainage. They also lead to puffy, red eyes.

If this happens while your child is sleeping, then they may wake up with their eye lids stuck together.

Applying a small amount of warm water to the eye lids will allow you to open them. If the discharge isn’t associated with an infection, then it probably won’t cause any problems.

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Eye Infections Are Very Contagious!

Remember that eye infections are very contagious. If you have one, make sure you don’t give it to your toddler.

Wash your hands frequently throughout the day and make sure that you’re applying medication as needed.

Likewise, it’s possible for your toddler to infect you. Using the preventative tips discussed above should help decrease the chances of the infection spreading.

When Should You See a Doctor?

How long should you wait before taking your child to the doctor? Depending on the severity of the toddler eye discharge, you might choose to wait it out.

In some cases, the symptoms may disappear within a few days. If the symptoms aren’t going away, or if they’re getting worse, then schedule a visit with your child’s pediatrician as soon as possible.

If your child also has a fever, then this means they’re body is fighting an infection and medications will be required.

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