Sticky eyes are quite common in children and babies, especially after they have been sleeping. The corner of the eyes may appear to have a yellow sticky substance which can be crusty or flaky too. Babies tear ducts are narrower than adults, therefore when a baby cries the tears build up, making the eyes look watery. When the tears dry, this is when they can appear sticky.
Sticky eyes from tears aren’t necessarily a problem; however, some parents panic that their baby has an eye infection.
How do I clean my baby’s sticky eye?
Sticky eye is easily cleaned with cotton wool and sterilised water- water that has been boiled and left to cool. Make sure your hands and cotton wool balls are clean then soak the cotton in the water and squeeze out.
Gently wipe your baby’s eye from the corner of the eye, outwards. Never go over the eye with the same piece of wool twice as you are transferring the bacteria back. Make sure when cleaning eyes that you tip baby’s head towards the eye being cleaned. This ensures that water does not trickle across the bridge of the nose into the other eye, and prevents cross-contamination in case there is an infection present.
When to take your baby to see the doctor or health visitor
- If the discharge becomes more severe
- If the discharge becomes yellow or green in colour
- If the baby’s eye itself is looking red or irritated
- If there is any swelling
These symptoms all point to an infection of some sort so take your baby to your GP if you notice any. Babies tend to grow out of this by approximately six months, so if the condition remains, talk to your GP about seeing an eye specialist.