My baby has sticky eyes. Does he need antibiotics?

Usually not.

If his eyes are very red with copious amounts of pus coming from them and he is less than a month old you should seek medical advice urgently.

The majority of babies however just have a blocked duct which does not require antibiotics.  Your midwife or health visitor should be able to show you how to clean your baby’s eyes.

The naso-lacrimal duct usually canalises around about 36 weeks gestation but 20% of newborns show signs that one or both are blocked. Eyes start watering within 6 weeks of birth, they get sticky eyes and occasional conjunctivitis which is when the whites of the eyes go red. We would usually take a swab and treat with antibiotic eye ointments only if the eyes are red.







You should massage the sac between the corner of the eye and the nose (see diagram above) 6 times per day and clean with cool boiled water.  90 – 96% of cases resolve by one year of age.  Your GP can refer your baby to a paediatric ophthalmologist if he is one of the 4% who still has sticky eyes at a year of age.

There is a good parent information leaflet on this topic here.

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