It can be frustrating to help babies when they are in trouble and if there is a hair in your baby’s eye then it can easily become a cause for panic if the baby is upset and you are having a hard time solving the problem.
To safely remove a hair from your baby’s eye, use clean hands to gently separate the lids with your fingers and attempt to wipe the hair away with a damp Q-tip or clean, damp washcloth. Alternatively, you can flush the hair out with lukewarm water or artificial tears. Most hairs will flush out of the eye naturally with your baby’s own tears.
If gentle attempts at removing the hair or particle didn’t help, you may be tempted to try other ways, but it’s important to be aware of good hygiene and first aid practices when it comes to baby’s eyes.
What to do if there is hair in your baby’s eye
As a parent, you’ve probably spent a lot of time gazing into your baby’s eyes, but what do you do when you’re admiring those baby blues and you notice something stuck in their eye?
We all know how uncomfortable and irritating it can be to have something like an eyelash or stray hair stuck in our eye, so when it happens to our baby of course we want to solve that pesky problem ASAP! If you notice a stray eyelash, hair or other irritants in your baby’s eye, there are safe and effective ways to remove it without causing damage or distress.
While the eye is generally able to rid itself from debris and irritants through tearing and blinking, sometimes you need some extra help. If you spot a stray hair or eyelash in your baby’s eye, follow these steps to retrieve it safely:
- Wash your hands before touching the eye to prevent further irritation or infection
- Use a well-lit area to ensure you can see properly
- Gently separate the eyelids with your fingers (top or bottom lid depending on where the eyelash is stuck)
- Use a damp Q-tip or washcloth to gently dab or wipe the hair away
- You can use lukewarm water or saline solution to flush the eye if attempts at wiping the hair away didn’t work
Understanding that babies aren’t known for holding still, it may be difficult to retrieve something small, like a stray hair or eyelash, that is stuck in their eye. If you have a squirmy baby or toddler on your hands, here are some tips to help keep them still while you work on removing the object from their eye:
- Wrap Them Up: for infants and younger babies, swaddle them to prevent them from rubbing their eye or flailing their limbs while you work on removing the hair from their eye.
- It Takes Two: If your baby is older, you may need an extra set of hands to help hold them still while you’re working to remove something from their eye. Ask your partner or other trusted guardian for help.
- Don’t Panic: Remain calm and focused as you try to remove the hair from baby’s eye. If you’re panicking it could cause baby to become frightened or fussier making the situation more difficult.
What NOT to do:
Our eyes are a sensitive part of the body and require the utmost care. If something is stuck in baby’s eye you may be tempted to try some of the following to remove the offending hair or particle.
However, you should:
- Never use a sharp object, like tweezers, to remove anything from baby’s eye
- Do not rub or press on the eye to help remove a hair from the eye, however, DO try to prevent baby from doing the same
- Do not use unclean hands, cloths, or towels to touch baby’s eye to prevent further infection or irritation
- Do not use heated water to flush the eyes
- Do not delay medical attention if proper attempts to remove a particle from the eye do not work
When to call your doctor
While something like a stray hair is generally nothing to worry about, remember that our eyes are fragile and need extra special care. You may require medical assistance if you see troubling signs after removing something from your child’s eye or if you cannot remove something easily. Call your doctor if:
- You cannot remove the object safely or easily using gentle methods
- If 1-2 hours have passed since removing the object your child is still complaining of pain or showing signs of irritation (rubbing, tearing, streaming eyes)
- If something has been stuck in your child’s eye for more than 2 hours
- The eye is bleeding or oozing sticky fluid
How to flush a baby’s eye
Flushing your eyes out isn’t really a pleasant feeling, so it’s likely just as uncomfortable or even scary for babies and toddlers. When preparing to flush a baby’s or toddler’s eye, be equipped with the following:
- A large amount of lukewarm or cool water in a pitcher or from the faucet (do NOT heat the water)
- Use a small cup with a spout, like a measuring cup, to help control the flow of water
- Use a clean eye dropper for infants and babies
- Saline solution, which can be found at any local pharmacy or online (my go-to brand). This is also a good item keep in your first aid kit for other situations!)
- A clean towel or washcloth
The proper way to flush baby’s eyes to help remove small particles like a stray hair is to gently lean the affected eye toward a towel to prevent water or solution from dripping onto baby’s face and into their mouth or nose and then gently stream water or solution using a dropper or small cup with a spout into baby’s eye using your free hand to hold their eye open. You can continue to flush baby’s eye for up to 15 minutes or until the hair is gone.
For older toddlers, you can have them participate and have them tilt their head over a sink or the tub and, using a small cup with a spout, gently stream water into the affected eye flushing for up to 15 minutes or until the particle is gone.
You may require the assistance of another adult to hold your child’s eye open or to help them hold still while you flush the eye.
How to deal with your baby constantly rubbing her eye
It’s likely that if your baby has something stuck in their eye that they are rubbing their eye as a response to the irritant. This is normal, but you should prevent them from doing this because rubbing the eye while something is stuck in it could cause the hair or particle to scratch or irritate the eye causing further irritation and risk of infections.
If you find it difficult to stop baby from rubbing their eye so you can get a good look at what’s bothering them, try a swaddle or wrapping them in a blanket to better control their arms.
If your child is older and you’re having trouble getting them to stop rubbing their eye, you can try taping a plastic cup over the eye to keep pressure off the eye and hands off of it until you can get a closer look at why they’re rubbing.
Is there any way to help keep hair out of your baby’s eye?
If you notice that your baby is getting hair or particles stuck in their eyes fairly often, there are some steps you can take to help:
- If you have pets, vacuum often including furniture and keep your pet well-groomed to avoid excess shedding
- Keeping the home clean can help reduce hair and other debris on surfaces your baby spends time on, like the floor
- Keep bedding clean by washing it often
- Wiping baby’s face including their eyes daily can help remove any loose or stray hairs as well
It’s quite common for babies, and adults, to get the occasional eyelash or stray hair stuck in our eyes. Remember that our eyes can rid themselves of debris like hair or small particles through blinking and tearing.
It’s a pesky problem, but generally, nothing to worry about and can be easily and safely remedied.