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Clinical Reference Systems: Pediatric Advisor 10.0
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Red Eyes (Without Pus) - Brief Version

What causes red eyes?

If your child has red eyes, it might be from a viral infection. A child often has red eyes when sick with a cold. A child's eyes may also get red when they are irritated. Shampoo, soap, smog, smoke, or swimming pool water can bother the eyes. Even something on your child's hands can cause a problem.

You may notice:

  • The white part of the eyes and inner eyelids are red.
  • Your child's eyelids are puffy.
  • There is a watery fluid coming from the eye.

How can I take care of my child?

If a viral infection causes your child's red eyes:

  • Rinse the eyes with lukewarm water every 1 to 2 hours. This helps prevent a bacterial infection.

If irritation causes your child's red eyes:

  • Wash your child's face with water. This helps wash away anything that is bothering your child's eyes.
  • Gently rinse the eyes with lukewarm water for 5 minutes.
  • Use vasoconstrictor eye drops. If your child's eyes don't feel better after rinsing, use eye drops.

Call your child's doctor right away if:

  • Your child's eyelids get very red or swollen.
  • Your child has blurred vision or eye pain.

Call your child's doctor during office hours if:

  • There is a yellow discharge.
  • Your child's eyes are red for more than 7 days.
  • You have other concerns or questions.

Written by B.D. Schmitt, M.D., author of "Your Child's Health," Bantam Books.
Copyright 1999 Clinical Reference Systems