What should I do if my baby has sticky eyes?
Have you noticed that your baby’s eyes are very watery and there’s some discharge? If so, then your baby probably has a blocked tear duct. This condition is also known as ‘sticky eye’ that is often caused by a blocked tear duct. In this case, a blocked tear duct baby massage can help your little one.
According to statistics, one in every twenty babies is born with tear ducts that are either too narrow or completely blocked. As a result, their tears cannot drain away, and their eyes are wet all the time. Babies with the condition will have eyes that water lot and have tears running down their cheeks. At times, the eyes may have a sticky discharge.
If your baby has sticky eyes or you noticed a yellow discharge in the eyes, your baby probably has a blocked tear duct and you should tell your GP. They can show you how to do a blocked tear duct baby massage to unblock it or prescribe both eye drops and an ointment if needed.
How to clean your baby’s eyes?
You’ll need to clean your baby’s eyes if they’ve become crusted and your baby has trouble opening them and before massaging this area. Here are the steps:
- Wash your hands.
- Wet a sterile cotton ball with saline solution. Saline solution is salt water that contains 0.9 percent salt. It has a similar salt and water composition as a person’s blood and tears.
- Gently wipe your baby’s eye from the inside corner to the outside corner.
- Use a new cotton ball for each wipe.
- Dry the eye using a different cotton ball, wiping from the inside corner out.
- Repeat these steps on the second eye if required. Make sure to use new cotton balls.
- Wash your hands.
How to do a blocked tear duct baby massage?
Doctors recommend massaging the tear duct area two to three times a day with freshly washed hands. It is recommended to ask your doctor to show you how to perform this blocked tear duct baby massage. Follow these steps to massage your baby’s blocked tear ducts:
- Wash your hands well before and after the massage.
- If your doctor has ordered eye drops, put eye drops as instructed in the eye to be massaged.
- Using the tip of your index finger, apply medium pressure to the part of your baby’s eye closest to the nose and massage downward by moving your index finger downwards 3 to 5 times, toward the nose next to the affected eye (picture 1).
- During the massage, you might see some fluid come out of your baby’s nose or you may see nothing at all.
- Repeat these steps 3 times a day, morning, noon, and night.
Causes of a sticky eye
There are glands that are located in the upper eyelids above each eye. These glands are responsible for producing tears. The glands flow over the surface of the eye. They then drain away into a small opening in the inside corner of the upper and lower eyelids. Afterward, the tears flow through the tear duct to the nose.
For babies with sticky eyes, the tear ducts can be too narrow or completely blocked. The blockage may be because of a plug of mucus or cells that developed before the baby was born.
How to tell its not a sticky eye
Sometimes, your baby may actually be having a different condition aside from sticky eyes. For instance, when the baby’s eyes become red, puffy, sore, and have a greenish discharge that can cause their eyelids to stick together. This is another condition altogether known as conjunctivitis.
It is important that you see a doctor when you think that your baby has an eye infection. Unlike sticky eyes that clear out by themselves, eye infection may need antibiotic eye drops or ointment.
It’s important not to apply any kind of antibacterial ointment on or around the eye unless instructed by your doctor because it won’t help unless there is an infection, and it could contribute to antibacterial resistance.
Other instances when you may need to see a doctor include:
- When your baby is sensitive to light
- The baby constantly squeezes their eyes shut
- The eyes have a green, yellow or white discharge
- The side of the nose is swollen
- The tear duct is still blocked even at age one
Other Natural Treatment for Sticky Eyes
Luckily, in most cases, blocked tear ducts aren’t serious. Sticky eyes clear out by the time your baby is 12 months. According to AAPOS, in most cases, blocked tear ducts clear up on their own without treatment.
Eye drops or ointments can be used to treat any other infections. In case your baby’s tear duct does not improve, your doctor can teach you the blocked tear duct baby massage (described above) that can help shift the blockage. When the case is serious, your baby may need surgery so that the tear duct can be opened.
For babies with sticky eyes, it is important to always keep their eyes clean. Here are a few more natural treatments that can help your baby.
- Apply a warm compress – To relieve your baby of the discomfort, hold a clean, warm washcloth against their closed eyelid for 2 to 5 minutes. You can use a gauze cotton swab and not cotton wool.
- You can use breast milk to clean your baby’s eyes
When it comes to sticky eyes, you need to be alert so that it doesn’t become a serious infection. Sticky eyes are quite normal so don’t be scared when you notice it on your baby.
How to know if your baby’s eyes are infected and you must see a doctor?
Sometimes your baby’s tear duct can become blocked and they can get an infection. In this case, your baby needs to see a pediatrician because he or she may need antibiotics.
You should take your baby to the pediatrician if you notice one or more of the following symptoms:
- Your baby’s sticky eyes are getting worse
- Your baby’s eyes look red and sore
- Redness and heat around the eye
- Redness and pus in the eye itself
- Your baby is rubbing their eyes a lot
- You think that your baby is in pain
- Your baby won’t open their eyes
- Your baby has a fever
- You think they might have conjunctivitis