Pink Eye in Baby

February 12th, 2013 posted by Gwenn Schurgin O'Keeffe, MD, FAAP

Dear Dr. Gwenn,

My little 5 month old woke up this morning with red eyelids – it looked as though I put pink eye shadow on him. He now has a reddish circle around both eyes kind of like a raccoon. He has very sensitive skin and cradle cap that needs prescription Cortisone and Aquahor. Could this be some weird virus that shows up as a rash around the eyes? I also had conjunctivitis last week but his eyes are by no means goopy and the whites of his eyes are not red. He seems fine and happy otherwise. Signed, Cautious Mom in Medfield

Dear Cautious Mom in Medfield,

Eyes can look pink for a variety of reasons – infection, irritation, trauma, and illness. Even being tired can given the appearance of blood shot eyes. True “Pink eye” usually refers to conjunctivitis which is actual inflammation of the outer layer of the eye, the conjunctiva. In addition to redness, gooey discharge is usually present and sometimes cold or sick symptoms. Puffiness or redness around the eye such as with your son is often from being tired, from irritation to the skin or from allergy. While too young for true allergies, pollen, smoke, cats and even viruses can all cause red eyes like you described. Bug bites can do that as well. Cradle cap is a cousin of eczema and when it occurs around the eyes the eyes can appear red or raccoon like. It often clears up by itself but sometimes 1/2% hydrocortisone is needed. Your pediatrician can help you decide the best course of action.

One disclaimer:

If the redness around either eye looks starts to look more angry, a physician should take a quick look to make sure there is not an infection of the skin developing, which usually is one-sided, occurs during an illness or after an obvious scratch, bug bite or irritation like with cradle cap. © 2005 – 2006 Pediatrics Now. All rights reserved. PEDIATRICS NOW™ is a trademark of Pediatrics Now

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Gwenn Schurgin O'Keeffe, MD, FAAP (36 Posts)

Pediatrician, Dr. Gwenn Schurgin O'Keeffe, MD, is a board-certified pediatrician and Fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics. Dr. Gwenn is an experienced columnist, educator, and practicing pediatrician. Dr. Gwenn strives to write as if she were talking to a parent. As a parent herself, she knows how important it is to obtain information but also understand how precious little time parents have to find that information on the internet. Pediatrics Now was developed to fill that gap and provide a bridge between the parenting and pediatrics worlds.

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