Recently my 3 year old daughter is waking up with crust on the inside of her eyes and a little on her lashes as well. This isn't pink eye (as she has had that already and her eyes are not pink at all now).

Could this be food related or seasonal allergies. I see this article which makes me think its possibly common. Any suggestion on why my daughter might wake up. Its been happening for a few days now.

  • 1
    Very important to understand that pink eye is not like chickenpox/etc; it is not a single disease but a syndrome, and has many different causes. You do not gain lifelong immunity from having one case of pink eye - my children have both had it multiple times within a single year not to mention across years.
    – Joe
    Mar 28, 2014 at 14:20

4 Answers 4


Here in Southern California, we have "Santa Ana Winds" a few times a year. When the Santa Anas come, or in hay fever season, or during other allergy times, my daughter would get crusty eyes. When the allergies abated, so did the crusty eyes.

Yes, be aware, but it doesn't yet need to rise to concern. If she has a cold or allergies are acting up, this is most likely an additional symptom. Treat the symptoms and pay attention. If it gets worse, or the color of the discharge changes, or it doesn't go away in a couple of days, then go see the doctor.

  • Clean the "gunk" away from her eyes with a warm wash cloth, gently wiping away and not circling or scrubbing. Don't reuse washcloths or towels. Repeat before and after naps and before bed. We found that setting the warm cloth on her eyes for 20 seconds or so loosened the crust and seemed to make her eyes feel better.
  • Frequently wash her bedding and blankets, and her pillow, and any bed/crib toys that come hear her face.
  • Wash your hands before and after dressing they child or touching the child's face.
  • If you think the underlying cause is allergy, then give her an anti-histamine such as Benadryl.

Some additional notes:

  • Pink eye " is not like chicken pox .. it can recur. It is actually a symptom of something else, like a cold or allergy, in the eye's mucus membranes.
  • Consider a hypo-allergenic cover for the pillow. That made a real difference in my daughter's allergies.

Check with a pediatrician.

Conjunctivitis (commonly known as pink eye) doesn't always show a pink color on the eyes, and the crusting is often associated.

You shouldn't be making diagnosises at home or off the internet. Let the doctor decide. Some things you can put off bringing to a doctor (minor colds, etc), but possible eye infections are not something you should take chances with. It's better to be safe.


Here is a good link that talks about the symptoms and various causes of pink eye and the associated eye crusties. Really, pink eye can be a symptom of many, many eye issues. It can be caused by abrasions of the eye, infections, and allergies...not all of which require immediate medical intervention. Bacterial conjunctivitis must absolutely be treated with antibiotic ointment or drops, viral conjunctivitis will, obviously, not respond to antibiotics.

From my own personal experience with eye infections, true eye infections are really, really painful and cause a lot of light sensitivity. I would think if your child had conjunctivitis, you would see a lot more symptoms than just eye crusties. However, if you notice that she has more than just the eye crusties, they continue throughout the day, or there are other symptoms that she has then she should probably see a doctor.

She might just be experiencing seasonal allergies (I know we've been slammed with pollen this past week here in the southeast), but what starts with just eye gunk can progress to full-blown sinus infection, so, if it were me, I'd keep an eye on it and make sure it doesn't progress any farther.


Investigate Vernal Allergic Conjunctivitis. It is more common among boys than girls. I know a lot about it as I spent years arguing with my doctor about my sons eyes. It was stressful for me and debilitating for him! He is now 14 and after suffering for approx 12 years seems to have grown out of it. (Touch wood)

These things will help:

  • oral antihistamines daily (clarentyne is non drowsy)
  • Zaditen eyes drops on mild days (no prescription required)
  • steroid eye drops for bad days ( this is where your fight comes in with regular GPs doctors! Most state "one eye bacterial, two allergy". No!!! This is wrong! You CAN have only one eye at a time affected and also sometimes both eyes. They will also say discharge means bacterial infection. No!! Vernal Allergic Conjunctivitis has a white string like discharge. You will know it when you see it. Fight for the drops for your sons comfort)
  • cold compresses - (we used to wet a face washer/flannel and wrap a ice pack inside it. My sons used these daily for years!)
  • if there is white stringy discharge you can clean the eye with soft muslin and saline solution.

I would like someone not to have to go through what we went through so if I can help in any way please email me [email protected]

  • Some concerns were raised about disagreeing with a doctor. Doctors tend to treat for the most likely scenario, so you should try what they recommend first, but this is good advice if their recommended treatment doesn't help. Mar 28, 2014 at 12:40
  • 1
    I can't agree with having an answer with this much medical advice compounded with advice to ignore a doctor. In particular, steroid eye drops are dangerous - these steroids are anti-immunogenic, meaning that if there is a bacterial infection, they are dangerous. While I think the suggestion about asking the doctor about a particular disease/syndrome is a good idea, there is too much detail here that could run against what is good for a particular child.
    – Joe
    Mar 28, 2014 at 14:18

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