How To Treat Sticky Eye Discharge In Toddlers

There are very few things in life that give you more happiness than holding your very own baby and having him look right at you. Until you notice a sticky, gloopy mess in the corner of your toddler’s eyes.

This is bound to sound off the alarm in any new parent’s head. And since you as a new parent are bound to be stressed already, there’s no point in worrying yourself sick. Learning about the causes, symptoms, and treatment of eye discharge in babies can help you get a grip on the situation and act quickly – not just for the sake of your child, but also for the sake of your sanity.

What Is Toddler Eye Discharge?

Many babies experience sticky eyes – where a yellowish, sticky substance is found clinging to the corners of the eyelids. If it’s freshly secreted by the eyes, it can be soft and thick, almost like a paste. But upon drying, it can appear crusty or flaky; this is especially common after your infant wakes up after a nap or a long period of sleep.

When Does Sticky Eye Discharge Happen?

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Toddlers are born with everything small, naturally, because they’re tiny themselves. For this reason, even their tear ducts are narrower, and this can cause an accumulation of tears in the ducts. If not cleaned out on time, this accumulation can cause block the tear ducts.

This is usually a part of your baby’s natural defense system and isn’t something you need to worry about. However, if it’s persistent, you may need to start thinking about consulting a doctor, for this may develop into an eye infection.

What Causes Toddler Eye Discharge?

Sticky eye discharge in toddlers can be triggered by a cold, an infection, an allergy, or even conjunctivitis.

Toddler eye discharge can be caused by a variety of conditions such as:

  • Infection: Certain eye infections like eye herpes, blepharitis, styes, dry eyes, and corneal ulcer are often one of the major causes of eye discharge in toddlers.
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  • Cold: If your toddler has abnormal eye discharge, it could be the sign of a cold or the flu.
  • Conjunctivitis: Conjunctivitis, often referred to as the “red eye”, is a common condition that causes inflammation and redness of the thin tissue layer that covers the front of the conjunctiva. If your toddler shows persistent sticky eye discharge, it could be an early symptom of conjunctivitis and this is something you need to bring to your child specialist’s attention immediately.
  • Seasonal allergies: Your toddler’s eyes could be secreting too much discharge if it’s constantly being irritated by seasonal allergies, pollen, chemicals, and other air pollutants.

Sticky Eye Discharge Colors

Sticky eye discharge in toddlers can be triggered by a cold, an infection, an allergy, or even conjunctivitis.

Eye discharge can be of different colors, depending on what is causing it in the first place.

  • Yellow eye discharge: This type of discharge is a very typical sign of dry eye syndrome and is caused by a decrease in tear production. Sun exposure, dry or very windy environments, exposure to cigarette smoke, and an allergic reaction to a particular medicine are the most common causes of yellow eye discharge.
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  • Green or gray eye discharge: This type of discharge is quite thick and is usually an indication of an eye infection possibly caused by pyogenic or pus-producing bacteria. Not only does this make it difficult to open the eye, but is also accompanied by an irritation or inflammation in the follicles.
  • Sticky eye mucus discharge: Often caused by allergic conjunctivitis, a reaction to irritation in the eye caused by mold, dander, pollen and other allergens. This kind of discharge is most common in the mornings, or during times of intense itching or burning. It is usually accompanied by puffy eyelids, tearing, red eyes, dilated eye vessels that show up in the white parts of the eye. and this occurs mostly in the morning as well as intense burning and itching.

How Can You Treat Sticky Eye Discharge?

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If you find your baby developing sticky eyes, almost as if the eyelids are glued shut, do not panic. Instead, follow these instructions to clean out your baby’s eye gently.

  • Sterilize some water by boiling it and allowing it to cool. Cover it with a lid.
  • Wash and dry your hands properly to rid it of all the germs and dirt.
  • Now get some clean cotton wool. Soak a piece of this cotton wool in the cooled sterilized water and start cleaning your baby’s eyes very gently. Start from the inner corner of the eye and continue wiping till you reach the other corner.
  • If the eye is not completely clean, use a new piece of clean cotton wool and wipe the eye again, starting from the inner corner. Repeat till the eye is completely clean.

Note: When cleaning the eye with the discharge problem, remember to tilt your baby’s head slightly to the side that has the infected eye. This will prevent the water from trickling off the bridge of your baby’s nose and into the other eye. This will stop cross-contamination, just in case, the discharge is due to an infection.

Should You Go To The Doctor?

If sticky eye discharge in your toddler persists beyond six months, you must take your baby to the doctor

Eye discharge is very common in toddlers and is usually not an indication of something too serious. Most babies should, in fact, outgrow this condition within six months. If sticky eye discharge in your toddler continues to persist beyond six months, it’s certainly time to take your baby to the doctor.

Even within the six-month time frame, always be on the lookout for the following signs:

  • If the eye discharge has become more severe or pronounced.
  • If the discharge has turned into a yellow or green color.
  • If your baby’s eye is beginning to look red.
  • If your baby keeps rubbing his eyes.
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  • If there is any swelling in or around your baby’s eyes.

The presence of any one or more of these symptoms could be signaling the onset of an eye infection, and is, therefore, something that should be brought to the doctor’s attention immediately.