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Sticky eyes

Common in newborn babies

‘Sticky eyes’ are common in newborn babies and young children while their tear ducts are developing. You may see some sticky stuff in the corner of the eyes or their eyelashes may be stuck together.

It normally clears up on its own, but you may have to clean your baby's eyes regularly with damp cotton buds.  Wash your hands first. Use clean, cooled boiled water. Wipe each eye from the corner of the nose outwards. Use a new cotton bud for each wipe.  Then wash your hands again.

The signs of ‘sticky eyes’ can sometimes be confused with an infection called ‘conjunctivitis’. With conjunctivitis the signs are yellowy, green sticky goo which comes back regularly. If you notice this, contact your health visitor or doctor. This can be passed on easily, so wash your hands and use a separate towel for your baby.

Health visitor says

Cooled boiled water is the best option for cleaning a newborn baby’s eyes.

Wipe each eye from the corner by the nose outwards. Use a clean cotton bud for each wipe. Remember to wash your hands before and afterwards and avoid sharing towels to prevent spreading infection.  Avoid cotton wool balls, which can have fibres that may lodge in the eyeball.


Is there discharge in the corner of your baby’s eye and do their eyelashes appear to be stuck together?


Sticky eyes is a common condition that affects most babies, speak to your health visitor.


Use cooled boiled water on a new cotton bud for each wipe.

The above information cannot replace specialist treatment. If you are still worried, contact your surgery or health visitor.