40 answers

How to cure excessive eye gunk in toddler?

The past 2 days my son's had excessive eye gunk. I'm not sure if I should be concerned. His eyes are not pink or red but I just wanted to double check with other moms. It only happens after he wakes about from his afternoon nap.

What can I do next?


It could be clogged tear duct or conjunctivitis - not serious but contagious. It could go away on it's own in about a week, but do consult your pediatrician.

So What Happened?™

Thank you everyone for your input. My husband took our son to the pediatrician today. He has a viral conjunctivitis - so not true pink eye (whew). He also is starting to get a cold - he was coughing last night. So our ped said to observe the eye gunk and treat his cold symptoms (tylenol, saline drops, humidifier as needed). She also prescribed eye drops in case his eyes do end up getting red and have more discharge. Thanks again - reading everyone's response urged me to make sure our son was seen right away!

More Answers

My girls all had ear problems. One of my daughters never ran a fever when she would get an ear infection but she would wake up every day with eye stuff. It never progressed like pink eye does but it was persistant. I hope this helps.

Allergies. My daughter has had the same problem. Her school even sent her home on two occasions. Her doctor prescribed patanol and it has helped alot. Good luck.

I would recommend washing his hands and face with antimicrobial soap BEFORE he naps or simply use wipes. Kids touch their face and rub their eyes and this gunk is just his cute little eyes rejecting germs. Try it. hope it helps..

Hi E.,
If it's not pink eye, could it be allergies?
I know sometimes the nap time is in a different spot, or a toy is there that may not be at night.

good luck and I hope it's not pink eye, yuck!!
D. H.

If the eye isn't red and swollen I would just wash off the gunk and keep an eye on it. Sometimes allergies will cause this.

This happened to my daughter when she was 18 months (now 20 months). Her eye was not red at all, but kept building up gunk. I took her to the doctor, he diagnosed it as pink eye, and gave me drops to put in her eyes a few times a day. Her eye was back to normal in 24 hours. The doctor also said that if any other family member started to show the same symptoms, they could use the same drops, which was convenient (but we didn't have any problems).
I'd take him to the doctor, just to be safe.

My 2 year old had the same 2 weeks back...no redness, no pinkness, no irriation, jut waking up "gunk". I took her to the Dr. and she had pink eye! As it is very contagious, my husband and then my 10 month old also got in within a week. Take your son to the Dr. for the prescription and it will clear up in 2-3 days. Good luck! S.

I would take him to the doctor because pink eye is going around. My mom, my sister, my son, and I all have it right now. My son didn't have the redness either, but he had the worst eye gunk I have ever seen. Hope this helps! Good luck!

I would check with your pediatrician, just in case.

Doesn't hurt to take him to the pediatrician to make sure he does not have an eye infection. It might be possible he needs to have ointment put into his eyes for about a week or two. I had to do this with my daughter when she was only about 2 weeks to one month old. I also have a teenage son who had eye infections a couple of times when he was young and needed to take eye drops.

While he is sleeping, put chamomile tea bags on his eyelids (wait until they have cooled after steeping). Leave them on until he wakes up. If they fall off , put them back on. The chamomile draws out any infection. Works like magic on pink eye!!!!

E. -
Pink eye is going around. Definitely take him to the doctor, just to be safe. My son had the gunk in his eyes for 2-3 days before the actual "pink" showed up. He had it in both eyes and then started running a high fever. Better to be safe and make the trip to the pediatrician.
Good Luck!

my daughter had the same issue and it turned out to be an ear infection. It's all connected and sometimes it affects the eye too. You should definately take him to the doctors to be checked. Is he tugging on his ears or having trouble sleeping? Good luck!

He may have a minor cold which often manifests itself first in the eye gunk with babies. He may also be teething which increases sinus mucus and could affect the eyes as well.

I was very happy to run into this thread as my two week old son has the same problem! Thankfully it looks to be clearing up and he has his two week check up tomorrow so I'm going to ask about it then. I'll be sure to post what they tell me!
Doc thought it was probably a clogged tear duct. He recommended that if that happens again to massage right under the corner of his eye.

A visit to the doctor may be needed to rule out conjunctivitis.

the eye gunk is probably from a cold air that got in his eye so its a cold int he eye usually the doctor can give you some eye cream and it will go away also ues a hot wash cloth when he wakes up to clean the eye gunk off and it is contagious so make sure if its in one eye he doesnt touch the other and take him to the doctor

Our 10mo. old son just got over pink eye about two weeks ago. About a week later he had more eye gunk...eeew! We took him to the doctor and she said that the aya secretions were not due to pink eye, but because the pockets in the corners of his eye's were draining fluid due to a stuffy/runny nose he also had. She recommended placing a warm compress on the bridge of his nose, and rubbing it out...yeah right, she must not have an infant at home! I was able to do it while he was in the bath, only because I turned it into a game of peek-a-boo. It resolved in about two days. Good Luck!

This may sound silly, but it worked for me; give him chamomile tea. Use a little sugar so he'll drink it. I gave my four month old tea to calm him and it cleared his eye completly (as a great unexpected side affect!) I gave him about 2oz. Hopefully this works... :).

Another might work idea is to use a warm paper towel or wash cloth and wipe the eye out ward in using a different part of the towel each time. Repeat with a new clean towel every two-three hours for one - two days.

My daughter just had this too! We took her to the doctor and she had an eye infection. Eye drops have helped tremendously. This is also the daughter who had clogged tear ducts and had the discharge frequently... you may have your son checked out for both. Good luck!

Hi Eleanore,

My son had the same problem. He had an issue with his tear duct. The doctor gave him some medicated eye drops that we had to put in his eye several times a day for 2 weeks and then it cleared up. I would take him to his pediatrician to see what the problem is.

could be clogged tear duct or conjuctivitis - not serious but contageous. it could go away on it's own in about a week, but doctors like to give you some gunk to put in their eye to make it go away. for clogged tear ducts just wipe their eye with a warm wet washcloth and try to massage right under the tear duct ( on the outside of the eye of course)

my first guess was a cold in the eye. (has he been sick or anyone around him with a cold?) If not a clogged tearduct would be it if its not red at all. If you are still breast feeding you can put some milk in his eye, or massage the tearduct 3 times a day. If its a cold he may need some drops from the ped.

My son just had this happen but in the morning after waking up. He also had alot of eye gunk in his eyes. No redness or swelling. I took him in to see the pediatrician and she ordered antibiotic eye drops for him. It cleared up in about 2 days it was a mild eye infection. I would suggest that if he keeps having that and it is a change from before, take him in just to be safe.

if, by any chance you are still breast feeding, you can put breast milk on it!!! weird i know, but after a couple days it clears right up!

When my girls were little they used to have this all the time. I'm not sure what it's from. My grandmother told me to make a tea bag warm in water and put it on their eyes. It always worked for me.

When I was a kid, I would wake up with eye gunk so bad it would glue my eyelids shut. I was told it was just allergies. I wasn't sick and it would only happen in the spring for stretches of about a week or so and would clear up after an antihistamine/decongestant. Best to get it checked out though. Hope that helps!

Two of my kids had really bad eye gunk when they had colds a couple weeks ago. My daughter also gets it when her allergies are acting up. Is it possible the weather changing is affecting your son and he's developing mild allergies?

Is it a clogged tear duct? Sometimes that happens...it could be the beginning of conjunctivitis/pink eye, but you'll see the eye look red and irritated fairly quickly...If it is a clogged tear duct, sometimes gently massaging it will help.

I have a newborn w/the same problem so I took him to the ped. and he said that he has a blocked tear duct which has led to an infection so he prescribed drops. He said it is not uncommon in infants. I think it's worth checking out.


It could be allergies, since we're in the season for it. My son will sometimes get it and it's not pink eye at all. But just be sure that his eye is not pink/red or itchy, because it is contagious. Maybe you can put an air purifier in the room and see if it makes a difference.


My 20 month daughter suffered with ongoing bouts of pink eye for the last two months, so I can really empathize with you. After several rounds of Vigamox to treat a suspected bacterial infection, we've determined it is allergies. She has been taking over the counter Zyrtec and the "gunk" is gone. Take your son the the pediattrician to determine what is going on. Although not routinely done, the doctor can send the eye "gunk" to the lab to be tested to determine if it is viral or bacterial pink eye. Good luck and until then lots of warm eye compresses.

He could have a blocked tear duct. so gently massage the inside portion inbetween his eyes and nose. push it toward his eye. Do this when ever you think about it. You might have to do this for a couple of weeks. Since this only happens after one nap , I would not be alarmed. But if his eyes get crusted , then I would get a eye sauve from your doctors to treat congitivitious. ( Pink eye) Very common. But it sounds more like a small allergy or tear duct.

My son had the same problem, it was a clogged tear duct. You can try massaging the area. Long as you aren't peeling his eyes open because there is so much gunk.

Little energetic boys are always putting their fingers everywhere! But especially if this is the first time you've seen this, it's best to have his eyes checked out by your optometrist or ophthalmologist to rule out an infectious condition which might require treatment. Most likely, it's nothing serious, and you'll just need to clean the gunk away. Unfortunately, sometimes eye infections can go bad quickly, or, all of a sudden, everyone in the family is miserable and has it too. I'm an optometrist and have seen this happen.

It could be a clogged tear duct. My baby had that shortly after she was born. My Dr/father in law advised me to heat a wet washcloth and gently rub gently from the corner of the eye closest to the nose to the nose. Do that several times a day and perhaps it will help.

He probably has a clogged tear duct (it happens all the time to my son). Typically massaging the tear duct (right under the inner corner of the eye) and applying a warm washcloth will loosen things up. If it doesn't go away after a couple of days, best to see the doctor to get some eye drops before it gets really infected.

That's exactly what it was like when my daughter had her past 2 eye infections. No red, just gunk after sleeping. By getting her to the doctor asap and giving her antiobiotics it cleared up within 24 hours.


My daughter had that every so often. I would just wet a washcloth with warm water and go in there and wipe off the gunk. She had it because her lower eyelashes were growing inwards.
Now at 11 months, they are slowly growing outward (normally). Her Dr. told us to put NO More Tears in her eyes. We could not find one that was just for that. They were all mostly for red, pink, allergic...etc.

So we just cleaned them up with a wash cloth. It will eventually diminish itself.

Good luck! You feel so bad for them but mine was always in a happy mood...And little do they know the pain we feel for them.

Your mom instincts serve you right. Unless there are no "secondary symptoms" (ie: swelling, redness, fever, rash, etc...)there probably isn't any reason for concern. Just keep "an eye" on it and, if it persists, give your son's dr. a call...just to be on the safe side.

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