Baby's Eye Is Swollen - Causes & Treatment

Swollen Eyes in Baby – Reasons and Remedies

It can be challenging for your baby to explain any form of eye discomfort, thereby making you worry. Hence, it is important to keep a close watch on signs that trigger swollen eyelids, redness, discharge or tearing. Contacting your baby’s paediatrician at the earliest would help relieve your little one from further discomfort or any hidden complications. In this article, we will discuss the important things to look out for if your baby has a swollen eye. We will also discuss the reasons, symptoms, and remedies for a swollen eye in babies. 

Video: Swollen Eyes in Babies – Causes and Remedies

Severity Of an Infant’s Swollen Eye

You can determine the severity of your infant’s swollen eye by observing the following:

1. Mild swelling

Any form of eye swelling is considered when the swelling is limited to the eyelids, but they open and close normally. 

2. Moderate swelling

The eyes are puffier than normal, but they open normally.

3. Severe swelling

In this case, the swelling seals the eyes shut. There may also be swelling in the eyeball and in the areas surrounding it. 

What Causes Swelling in Baby’s Eyes?

Spotting your baby with puffy eyes may not be something to worry about since it usually goes away naturally. However, in some cases, the issue might get worse if no action is taken. We have compiled a list of factors that cause eye swelling.

1) Swelling In One Eye

Swelling in one eye can have multiple causes, and accurate diagnosis is crucial for effective treatment.

1. Allergies

If your baby is exposed to irritants like cigarette fumes, pollen, pet dander or dust mites, they are more susceptible to developing an allergy. It commonly causes typical symptoms like swelling and redness of the eyelid. Sometimes, a child can develop a reaction instantly. Hence, it’s important to know what they have been exposed to recently.

2. Mosquito Bites

Mosquito bites can make the eyes puffy. This type of swelling isn’t painful, but just itchy, and can last for up to 10 days in an infant. The swelling generally looks pinkish or reddish in colour.

3. Injuries

Any physical head injury, near the eyes, can give rise to swollen eyes, inflammation, redness or more. Toddlers are prone to getting injured, since they are moving about all the time. At times, they might not feel any pain, in spite of puffy eyes.

4. Sty and Chalazion

A sty is a tender red lump that can occur close to the edge of the eyelid or under it, thereby causing swelling. According to studies, a sty occurs if an eyelash follicle becomes inflamed. Most stys are painful, but they go away on their own in a few days. Chalazion, on the other hand, occur near the eyelid if an oil-producing gland becomes swollen and leads to oil clogging up the openings. The swelling in Chalazion is typically larger than that of a sty.

5. Blepharitis

Our eyelids comprise an oil gland that can sometimes become blocked or inflamed. This would cause Blepharitis which can be most prominent in the mornings (after a night’s sleep). The symptoms include crusting on the eyelashes, swollen eyelids, tenderness in the eyelids, and itchiness.

6. Neonatal Conjunctivitis

Sometimes, a baby is prone to infection at birth, which may cause neonatal conjunctivitis. The most common reasons for such a condition are gonorrhoea, chlamydia, or herpes. The symptoms of this problem are red puffy eyes and excessive discharge.

7. Rubbing the Eye

Babies often touch or rub their eyes with dirty hands. Irritants present on the hands can enter the eye and cause irritation, which further leads to swelling of the eyes. A baby’s eye swollen after sleep is also a common occurrence. 

8. Dacryocystitis

This is a bacterial infection of the tear sac, which lies in the inner corner of the eye, towards the nose. An infection of the sac can lead to swelling of the eye. 

9. Blocked Tear Ducts

The tear ducts drain the tears from the eyes to the nasal cavity. If a tear duct gets blocked, it may lead to swelling of the eye. 

10. Sinus Infection 

Any form of infection in the sinuses can cause swelling in the eyes. 

2) Swelling In Both Eyes

Swelling in both eyes of a baby can be caused by infections, allergies, or underlying medical conditions that require prompt diagnosis and treatment.

1. Conjunctivitis 

Conjunctivitis is the swelling and inflammation of a membrane in the eye called the conjunctiva. This condition is commonly called pink eye. It is commonly caused by viral or bacterial infection but can also be caused due to allergies. 

2. Anaphylaxis 

Anaphylaxis is a life-threatening allergic reaction which causes the tissues in the body to swell up. It is often seen with difficulty in breathing and swallowing and hives on the body. A person requires immediate medical help if an anaphylactic reaction is observed. 

How Long Does It Take For Swelling In a Baby’s Eyes To Go Away?

The recovery time depends on the cause of the swelling. It can take anywhere from one to three days for the swelling of the eye to go down. 

How Can You Treat Swollen Eyes In Babies?

The treatment of the swollen eye depends on the severity and cause of the swelling. Here are some ways swollen eyes are treated in babies:

  • Antibacterial eye drops
  • Antihistamine drops, and oral medication
  • Topical antibiotics
  • Surgical methods (in certain cases)
  • In some cases, hospitalization may be required

Easy Remedies for Swollen Eyes in Babies

Many factors can bring about swollen eyes, such as dust mites, pollen, and milk. Here are some of the remedies to help you cure puffy eyes.

1. Cold Compress

A simple remedy for puffy eyes is to apply a cold compress. Apply this to your baby’s eyes, for a few minutes at a time, to help lessen the redness and swelling.

2. Keep Eyes Clean

To prevent your baby from getting a swollen eye, keep the eye area clean with a clean wet cloth and warm water. If your baby’s eye is infected, wiping it with a clean, cool cloth will help. Make it a point to wash your baby’s hair frequently, as it may contain a buildup of pollen or pet dander, which could cause eye irritation.

3. Wash Bedding Weekly

In order to lower the chances of puffy eyes caused by allergens, it’s a must to wash your baby’s bedding with hot water on a weekly basis. Use hypoallergenic and mild detergents while washing your baby’s bedding and ensure that the carpet in your baby’s room is replaced as well.

When to Call Your Doctor

Mild swelling due to a known cause is not dangerous and can be treated at home. However, in many cases, your baby may require the medical assistance of a doctor to treat the issue appropriately. Immediately consult your doctor in case of:

1. Severe Swelling

If your baby experiences severe swelling in one or both eyes, which does not subside, call a doctor, especially if the affected eye is completely or almost shut.

2. Fever

Swelling of the eyes, accompanied by fever, is indicative of an infection that should be treated immediately.

3. Unknown Cause

If your child experiences chronic eye swelling without any explained cause, it is best to consult a doctor who can determine the cause and prescribe appropriate treatment.

4. Excessive Redness

If the eyelid is red and swollen, without having subsided even after continuous efforts, visit a doctor.

5. Pain and Tenderness

If the affected area is painful and tender for your child, make sure to consult a doctor who can help provide immediate relief with the appropriate treatment.


1. Is It Safe To Put Breastmilk In The Baby’s Eye?

Always consult your baby’s paediatrician before trying any home remedies. Even when it comes to breastmilk, first consult your baby’s paediatrician and then proceed to treat your baby’s puffy eyes. 

2. Can A Infant’s Eye Infection Go Away On Its Own?

You must always consult a doctor when it comes to infections or anything else related to your little one. Some medication may be required to help your little one recover. 

It is imperative that you remain vigilant and spot any alarming symptoms because the issue could be serious. Infection on the swollen eye can be potentially life-threatening, requiring immediate medical assistance. Once you are aware of the specific agents that trigger puffy eyes in your baby, handling the issue makes it less challenging.

Also Read: Eye Problems in Babies

Previous article «
Next article »