Puffy or swollen eyes in babies is not something you want to wake up to as a parent. The older kids will tell you how it feels but the younger ones will not be able to communicate it to you. They can not really express the hurt, they will just be fussy and rub their eyes. As a parent, you have to understand puffy eyes symptoms so that you know what to do about them.
Signs or symptoms
Some of the signs of puffiness include:
- Swelling under the eyes or swollen eyelids with no injury.
- The eyes’ white part is red
- Light sensitivity
- Irritated eyes
- Watery eyes
- Eyelids are red and dry
Causes of puffy eyes in toddlers
If your toddler woke up with some swelling and puffiness, then it could be due to one of these reasons:
Crying and sleeping
You know the way you can tell that a friend has been crying when you see their puffy eyes? It’s the same for the toddlers especially when they do some serious crying. The puffiness occurs because there is too much blood flowing through the eyes when he or she cries. The puffiness disappears when the baby calms down.
One of the questions in the baby forums was of a mother wondering why when her baby changes her sleeping positions, she wakes up with swollen eyes. When the baby assumes an awkward position during sleep, or when they sleep for an extended period, their eyes also become swollen. The will also swell too if the baby has a rough night.
For infection prevention, doctors put drops into the baby’s eye after birth. The drops can cause swelling for just for a few days. Other irritants include antibiotics, cigarette smoke, pollen and pet dander.
If your child suddenly develops an allergy, try and find out what they recently encountered. Wash the baby’s hair every night to remove any pet dander or pollen that could irritate the eyes.
If the puffiness is caused by antibiotics given at birth, it will go away on its own.
Blocked tear ducts
20% of children have this during their first weeks after birth. The eyes look swollen, crusty and red. It caused by an immature tear drainage system in infants. Anything that gets backed up at the ducts will result in irritation and swelling. One of the signs to look out for is crusting on the eyelids and lashes, especially after the child wakes up.
A good home remedy is a warm gentle massage between the nasal area and the eye. If this does not work, try antibiotics. In some extreme cases, surgery may be needed if the tear duct is not clear when the baby gets to 1 year.
Injuries to the eye
Trauma to the eye or to areas around it can cause puffiness or swelling. They will either appear as a swollen, black eye, inflammation or redness. An injury to the head can also cause puffiness.
Newborn babies can also injure themselves when they scratch their eyes with the long fingernails that are typical of newborns. This can cause the corneal abrasion.
Sty or chalazion
A sty will appear on the edge or inside the eyelid. It can be swollen and painful. It happens when the root of an eyelash gets a bacterial infection. It will appear as a red bump at the eyelid edge and get larger with time. It eventually bursts after a few days as the baby sleeps.
A chalazion, on the other hand, appears as a lump on the eyelid that looks similar to a sty, although it doesn’t hurt at all. The painless bump appears under the lower or upper eyelid and is due to an inflamed eyelash gland or tear duct. It starts out as a small lump the size of a poppy seed but can grow to the size of a pea or larger.
The sty goes away after some time on its own, but you can help speed up the process by putting a warm compress over the eye. The water should be the same temperature as the one you use to bathe the baby. Use a clean flannel, dip it in the warm water and place it over the eye for five or 10 minutes. Repeat this thrice or four times in a day till it starts going down or removes some pus.
Do not squeeze the sty or try to pierce it as this will worsen it. The idea behind this is to ease the discomfort caused by the sty so if the baby prevents you from placing the warm compress for long, wait until they are happy to do it. It should clear out in a week on its own.
If the sty does not clear after a week or keeps recurring, visit a doctor to get antibiotic ointment for the infection.
A chalazion will also go away on its own so long as its left alone in a month but you can ease the discomfort it causes the baby by bathing the eye with a warm compress. Dip a clean flannel in warm water and place it over the eye for five minutes.
If it fails to go way in a month, visit the doctor.
This happens when the oil glands in the eyelids become blocked leading to inflamed and red eyes. It occurs in the part where eyelashes grow. It’s a difficult problem to treat though not contagious and neither does it cause permanent eyesight damage. Blepharitis can occur at any age and affects both eyes in most of the cases. One eye may be more affected than the other with symptoms being more prevalent in the morning.
Symptoms will include:
- red watery eyes
- a stinging sensation
- greasy eyelids
- itchy, red and swollen eyelids
- skin flaking around the eyes
- crusted eyelashes especially after waking up
- light sensitivity
- blinking frequently
- misdirected lashes (they grow abnormally)
- loss of eyelashes.
- eyelid tenderness and a baby who keeps rubbing their eye as if they want to remove something inside it.
It can’t be cured and those affected experience repeated episodes. It can, however, be controlled through an eyelid cleaning routine done daily to control symptoms. This helps prevent the eyelid margins from permanent scarring. The eyelid hygiene should be done either once or twice in a day. It includes:
- warm compresses that help make the oil from the glands runny.
- Massaging the eyelids gently to help push out the oils from the glands
- Eyelid cleaning that helps wipe off any excess oil. This also helps in clearing away or removing bacteria, dust, crusts or grime that may build upon it.
For the severe cases, an antibiotic will be prescribed by a doctor. This is either to be applied directly to the eyelid, taken as tablets or applied to the eye.
Neonatal Conjunctivitis according to Medscape is the swelling or infection that occurs at the eyelid membranes and which covers the eyes’ white parts. It occurs in newborns. Bacteria in a woman’s vagina is passed on to the baby at childbirth. In other serious cases, the infection will be caused by:
- chlamydia and gonorrhea which are spread through sexual contact.
- Genital and oral herpes viruses. This can cause severe eye damage.
Infections by herpes are not as common as those caused by chlamydia and gonorrhea. The mother may not have the symptoms during delivery but she may be a carrier of the viruses which cause this problem.
The baby will have puffy eyes that are tender and red. They may become bloody, watery or have thick fluid that looks like pus.
For infection caused by bacteria, eyedrops, and ointments are used. To remove the sticky yellow drainage, use salty water eyedrop.
For case caused by a herpes infection, a special antiviral ointment or eyedrop prescribed by a doctor is used.
Remedies to get rid of baby swollen eyes
Most of the puffy swollen eyes in toddlers resolve on their own, but you can help the healing process speed along by:
- Keeping the baby’s eyes clean
- Using breast milk. It contains antibacterial properties that help treat itchiness and irritations in baby eyes. Pour just a few drops into the eye.
- Using a cold compress to alleviate redness and puffiness.
- Wash the baby’s beddings every week with hot water. This helps alleviate allergies. Use mild detergents.
- Keep baby’s hands clean always. Try and clip their tiny nails to prevent the baby from injuring themselves and to prevent infections. Clean and short nails will make sure the baby has clean hands free from germs that linger on fingertips.
If the allergic reaction is accompanied by swallowing difficulty, wheezing, breath shortness or vomiting, visit the doctor immediately. The baby could be having anaphylaxis which is a severe allergic reaction. This condition is best treated by professionals. Keep a close watch for this symptoms so that you can identify what your baby is allergic to and keep it away from them.