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What causes runny nose and pink eye in a child?

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Posted on Wed, 30 Sep 2015
Question: My 18 month old has had a runny nose (seasonal allergies) and is teething, but of late she has eye discharge and matting in one eye. Her eyes are not bloodshot and I am familiar with what pinkeye looks like in more advanced stages. Could this be the early symptoms of pinkeye, or will it resolve itself?
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Answered by Dr. Bonnie Berger-Durnbaugh (1 hour later)
Brief Answer:
Could be either allergies or mild conjunctivitis

Detailed Answer:
The most common cause of pink eye (conjunctivitis) infections are viral rather than bacterial and can resolve on their own without antibiotics. Usually there is some degree of pinkness though.

Seasonal allergies can cause eye discharge. Usually the eyes are itchy when seasonal allergies are the cause, and usually affect both eyes.

I would recommend, if she will allow this, to put a very warm wet wash cloth on her eye for a minute or two (as long as she will allow) a few times a day. The cloth should be not so hot that it has potential to burn the skin. After applying the wash cloth for heat purposes, make it soppy and wash away the discharge. You'll have to stand over the sink for all this. I have used the wet hot wash cloth treatment on early pinkeye with my own daughter when she was little and I can attest to it working.

The other possibility for the discharge in one eye without pinkness is a clogged tear duct. Usually there is a bit of puffiness around the eye when that happens, but not always. The treatment above can help with this too if the problem is mild.

If things get worse however, she should see a doctor for evaluation.

I hope this information helps. Please let me know if I can provide further information or clarification.

Above answer was peer-reviewed by : Dr. Chakravarthy Mazumdar
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Answered by
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Dr. Bonnie Berger-Durnbaugh

General & Family Physician

Practicing since :1991

Answered : 3134 Questions

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What causes runny nose and pink eye in a child?

Brief Answer: Could be either allergies or mild conjunctivitis Detailed Answer: The most common cause of pink eye (conjunctivitis) infections are viral rather than bacterial and can resolve on their own without antibiotics. Usually there is some degree of pinkness though. Seasonal allergies can cause eye discharge. Usually the eyes are itchy when seasonal allergies are the cause, and usually affect both eyes. I would recommend, if she will allow this, to put a very warm wet wash cloth on her eye for a minute or two (as long as she will allow) a few times a day. The cloth should be not so hot that it has potential to burn the skin. After applying the wash cloth for heat purposes, make it soppy and wash away the discharge. You'll have to stand over the sink for all this. I have used the wet hot wash cloth treatment on early pinkeye with my own daughter when she was little and I can attest to it working. The other possibility for the discharge in one eye without pinkness is a clogged tear duct. Usually there is a bit of puffiness around the eye when that happens, but not always. The treatment above can help with this too if the problem is mild. If things get worse however, she should see a doctor for evaluation. I hope this information helps. Please let me know if I can provide further information or clarification.