Q. My week-old newborn has pus or what some individuals may call “sleep crust” coming out of his right eye, a lot more than the other eye.
Whenever he gets up, it’s crusted so that he cannot even open his eye. I am simply wondering if it could be allergies or an infection. We are going to bring him to the doctor, however I believed perhaps you can provide some general input on what could be triggering this?
A. Your newborn has an easily treatable issue called a blocked tear duct. It’s typical– I see this condition with nearly half of the newborns in my pediatric practice. There are tiny tear ducts that usually drain the tears from the eyes into the cavities near the nose. Sometimes these tiny tear ducts are not entirely open at birth or become clogged later. Excess tears then well up in the eyes. As a basic principle of the human body, if fluid can’t usually drain pipes, like water in a stagnant pond, it can get infected. This is what has actually happened in your baby. Here’s how you and your doctor can clear up this condition.
You can help to open up your baby’s tear duct by routinely rubbing her lacrimal sac, which is part of the drainage system. You can do this by applying light pressure with your fingers on the side of your baby’s nose, working your way below top to bottom. Ask your doctor for help if you are unsure how to do this.
Baby Eye Always Gunky
Wash away the drain
Using clear water on a tidy, soft fabric, carefully wipe the yellow discharge from your baby’s eyes. Do this numerous times a day or as frequently as necessary.
Massage the tear ducts
The tear ducts lie simply underneath the nasal corner of the eyes. If they are extremely obstructed, you can often feel a bump where the corners of the eyelids assemble. Using the suggestion of a well-scrubbed finger, carefully massage this area moving your fingertip in a semi-circle from the corner of the eye inward toward the nose. Do this for around five to ten strokes at least 6 times a day. Make it part of your everyday routine, before every diaper modification for instance. Putting mild pressure on the fluid-filled tear duct will typically require the fluid through the clogged passages and open them up.
Use mom’s milk
Moms taught me about the antibiotic value of breast milk several years back. It’s an effective home remedy, if you are breastfeeding. Around 6 times a day, reveal a couple drops of your milk onto the pointer of a clean finger and put them in the nasal corner of his draining eye. Each drop of your milk consists of countless infection-fighting white blood cells and natural antibacterial substances. And, it is kinder to delicate little eyes than prescription drugs.
See the doctor
If these solutions don’t clear up the discharge, your doctor may recommend an antibacterial ointment or drops to be used 4 times a day until the tear duct opens and no more discharge takes place. Your doctor will most likely recommend you to use the prescription medication in addition to all the above home remedies. On each routine well-baby examination, report the status of your baby’s tear-duct drainage to your doctor.
As baby grows, so do his tiny tear ducts. Most blocked tear ducts open and drain normally within a few weeks to a couple of months of using these home and doctor-prescribed treatments. Occasionally, tear ducts might stay closed since the nasal end of the ducts are sealed with membranous tissue. If they have not opened and are still not draining typically by the time your baby is nine months old, your doctor may refer you to a pediatric eye professional for a procedure called tear-duct penetrating. This quick procedure is generally carried out in the doctor’s workplace. A small wire is placed through the tear ducts to unblock the passages. While usually this is done as a fast doctor’s workplace procedure, sometimes in older babies it is done on an outpatient basis in the hospital under a light, general anesthesia.
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