No matter how careful you are with your baby, accidents are inevitable. One of the accidents that can happen is poking your baby’s eye. If this happens, you might be at a loss with what to do and you might be filled with worry.
If you accidentally poke your baby’s eye and you observe minimal to no damage, flush his eye with clean water. Most eye pokes are not serious and can be treated at home. On the other hand, if your baby is showing signs of continued discomfort, crying and the area is painful, swollen, or red, it is best to consult with your doctor for further steps.
Read along as we discuss what to do and when to take your baby to the doctor if you accidentally poke his eye.
What to do if you poked your baby in the eye
Accidents happen all the time especially with kids, and poking your baby in the eye is no exception. Accidentally poking your baby in the eye can happen with your finger or a foreign object. Similar to adults, a baby’s initial reaction after getting poked in the eye might be that of shock and he might cry or scream because it is unexpected.
Your baby’s reaction to the accidental poke is a natural immediate reaction and is not a determination of how hurt he is. Unfortunately, babies cannot communicate how they are feeling so it is up to parents to observe and determine the next steps to take.
His eye might be completely fine or he might need some first aid.
All the advice that we are providing is not medical advice and should not be treated as a medical professional’s opinion. If you feel like your baby needs more professional care, please don’t hesitate to contact your doctor.
Accidental poking and eye injuries are very common. According to the Boston Children’s Hospital, approximately one-third of the estimated 2.4 million eye injuries that happen in the United States affect children 17 years and younger, and around half of these eye injuries occur at home.
Minor eye pokes can definitely be treated at home by following these steps:
- Wash your hands with soap and water before treating the eye.
- Gently flush the eye with water. You can do this by holding your baby towards the sink and keeping his eye open. If there is an object stuck in his eye, gently pour water for five minutes until the foreign object comes out. Repeat as necessary. If the object is not coming out, go to the nearest medical office.
- Apply a cool compress on the area for a few minutes at a time.
- If you feel like your baby is experiencing discomfort, ask your doctor if you can give them Advil or Tylenol and always follow the recommended dosage depending on your baby’s weight.
If you think that your baby has a scratch in their cornea, contact your doctor for additional guidance. This is usually called corneal abrasion and is characterized by difficulty in keeping the scratched eye open.
If the skin around the eye starts bleeding, you can administer first aid by applying a clean fabric or cloth and by applying pressure. A minor cut can be treated at home, just make sure you are changing the bandage every day and keeping the area clean. If the bleeding is not going away, it is best to contact your doctor or go to the nearest hospital.
The area around the eye might turn black or dark over the next couple of days. If this happens, you can keep putting a cold compress in this area for relief. The bruising will intensify over the next 2-3 days before it starts to get better. The bruise will change colors as time goes by and will usually disappear within 2-3 weeks.
If you accidentally poke your baby’s eye, you might feel extremely guilty and bad over it and you might have a worse reaction than your baby. As long as you know what to do in this situation, it should lessen the panic that you are feeling.
Most eye pokes are not major and can be treated at home but it is always best to know what to do and what not to do in this situation to not make the injury worse.
What NOT to do
You might be panicking when you accidentally poke your baby’s eye either with your finger or a foreign object. And your baby might express discomfort by crying or screaming. It is important to keep in mind that minor accidental eye pokes can be treated at home with no need for medical intervention.
On the other hand, if the area is red, painful, swollen, or bleeding, it is best to consult with your doctor for the next steps.
You should never put any cream or medicine inside your baby’s eye without consulting your doctor first. If the area looks painful, refrain from touching it. If there is a foreign object stuck inside your baby’s eye and it is hard to get out, after you have tried flushing it out with water, don’t be tempted to use other chemicals or put soap directly in their eye.
It is best to cover the eye with a gauze or bandage and take your child to the doctor.
When to call your doctor
While most injuries your child will experience are minor, a significant eye injury is a cause for immediate concern.
You need to call 911 or go to the hospital if your child is experiencing the following:
- An object stuck in their eye
- Uneven pupils
- Problems seeing after the injury
On the other hand, you should call the doctor if your child is experiencing the following:
- Has an irritated or red eye
- Continuous tearing
- Light sensitivity
- Continuous blinking
- The eye area or eyelid is red, swollen, or painful to the touch
- Cut around the eye and might need stitches
How do you know if your baby’s eye is scratched?
If a foreign object gets in your baby’s eye and somehow scratches the inside of his eye, this is called a corneal abrasion. A corneal abrasion is essentially a scratch on the cornea or the clear surface of the eye.
A corneal abrasion can be painful and uncomfortable. It will give off a feeling that something is stuck in your eye.
While your baby will not be able to communicate this to you directly, there are signs that you can watch for. Common signs of corneal abrasion include difficulty in opening the injured eye, redness in the cornea, tearing, and blurred vision.
The good news is that corneal abrasions usually go away and heal on their own in a couple of days. If you feel like it is not healing fast enough, you can contact your doctor for advice. Your doctor is likely to prescribe eye drops or ointment and even pain medication if your child is experiencing discomfort.
If you accidentally poke your baby’s eye and scratch it, it is important to know that minor eye injuries can be treated at home and sometimes will take a few days to heal.
By the way, we also have a great resource for getting a hair out of your baby’s eye if that happens!
Can breast milk help a scratched eye?
Breast milk can do wonders with your baby not just with the nutrients that it brings but it can bring healing properties as well. Breast milk is known to be used for baby rashes and dry skin because it has moisturizing properties, but can you use it to help with a scratched eye?
In the past, there were studies conducted regarding using breastmilk to treat eye infections.
These studies concluded that using breastmilk is generally safe and effective against bacterial infections and blocked tear ducts. There are not enough studies or research when it comes to eye scratches.
Accidental eye pokes are unavoidable when it comes to your baby and the majority of eye pokes do not do damage and can be treated at home but if you feel like your baby’s eye is injured, you should always call your doctor for advice.
What if you poked the baby in the eye with your nail?
If you poked your baby’s eye with your nail, check to make sure there are no scratches in the eye.
If there is a scratch, chances are it is a corneal abrasion. This might bring discomfort to your baby and the eye will constantly be tearing.
This abrasion usually goes away on its own after a few days and will not cause any long-lasting effects.
What if there is a red spot after poking your baby in the eye
If you see a visible red spot in your baby’s eye, this is called a Subconjunctival Hemorrhage. This red spot is usually caused by a broken blood vessel. It might look scary especially if you see it in your baby’s eye.
This happens when blood gets trapped in the subconjunctival which is a membrane beneath the conjunctiva which covers your eye. This red spot typically goes away on its own within 48 hours and as time goes by might change colors from red to yellow as more blood gets absorbed by the eye.
If the red spot doesn’t go away after a few days or is not changing colors to yellow, it is best to call your doctor for additional guidance.