The American Association of Pediatrics estimates nearly 20% of newborns to experience blocked tear ducts, but over 90% of cases resolve on their own within the 1st year. This is characterized by swelling and redness in the eye corner, and symptoms include pus and sticky discharge. With a blocked tear duct, tears are unable to travel from the eye corner and empty into the nose, due to the tear duct (nasolacrimal duct) being obstructed.


Untreated, this is a fertile ground for bacteria to take root, giving rise to discomfort and infection. Fret not, however, as your baby’s tear ducts will expand with age. If tear duct blockage happens to be a persistent, recurring challenge, the following treatments are available to address this.


Keeping the Infected Area Clean

Prevention is better than cure, and cleaning the affected areas would stem the spread of bacteria and infection. Use a wet, warm cloth to gently wipe away any eye discharge, repeating as necessary. Antibiotic eye drops prescribed by a pediatrician would definitely be a plus in this aspect.

It may be surprising for you to know that breast milk has traditionally been used to treat conjunctivitis – viral, bacterial and allergic. A miracle treatment, if ever there was one! Breast milk contains antibodies, white blood cells and anti-bacterial properties that would help your baby fight against the infection. Apply 2 to 3 drops of breast milk with an eyedropper to treat the infection.


Massaging the tear ducts

A light massage for your baby’s eyes may help to drain away stagnating tears, improve circulation, and promote a little bonding as a bonus. The tear ducts are located near the inner corner of each eye; using clean, sanitized fingertips, gently massage the bump at the corner of the eye in a semi-circular motion towards the nose, to help the stagnating fluids flow through the clogged tear ducts. As a daily routine, this would certainly help in clearing up her blocked tear ducts.


Get Professional Help

When the situation does not improve, in spite of all your efforts, please see a doctor to determine the exact cause of tear duct blockage. Solutions involve surface level treatments such as antibiotic eye drops, or invasive procedures like tear duct intubation and balloon tear duct dilation for the more challenging cases. In most cases, these operations can be completed quickly, and your baby should be able to return home soon after!

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