How to Get Rid of Eye Boogers in Toddlers during the Day

I recently watched a child eating eye boogers absent minded and couldn’t help but feel disgusted. There wasn’t much I could do though. I later on went on and researched on the topic to learn more about the same. Below I discuss my findings on eye boogers on toddlers and babies, their causes, why you may experience a lot of gunk and what you can do to prevent their formation.

Eye Boogers

Going by other names such as sleep in eyes, eye mattering, eye pus and eye gunk, eye boogers are a combination of oil, mucus, skin cells and debris that tend to accumulate in the eyes as you are sleeping. The characteristics of the boogers varies. They could be dry, sticky or crusty and take various coloration such as yellow, white, brown of green.
Normally, eye discharge which is known as rheum is produced for protective purposes.  It is meant to eliminate waste products and any harmful substances from the surface of the eyes. Although the eyes produce mucus throughout the day, the presence of a continuous film of tears ensures that it is washed away whenever there is blinking. This helps in flushing the rheum off before it can harden within the eyes.

While sleeping, there is no blinking and as such, the rheum collects and forms eye boogers at the edges of your eyes. It is therefore quite normal to experience some amount of gunk on your eyes upon waking up. However, excessive eye discharge that is yellow or gree should be of concern. The same applies to the gunk being accompanied by pain, sensitivity to light or blurry vision as these could be indicative of eye infections.

Medical Term for Eye Booger

The medical term for eye boogers is rheum. The same is also referred to as gound.

Eye Boogers Causes

In mild form, eye boogers should not be of concern as their presence is quite normal. However, if there is a change in color, amount and consistency of discharge produced, it is possible that you have an eye problem. Some of the causes of eye boogers include:


Also referred to as pink eye, conjunctivitis is a condition which is caused by the inflammation of the conjunctiva and the inner surface layer of the eyelids. The condition is usually accompanied by symptoms that include red irritated eyes, itch and green or yellow eye boogers that become crusty along the lash line upon accumulation during sleep. In cases where the inflammation is severe, you may wake up with eyes sealed shut

Conjunctivitis can be caused by allergic reactions, bacteria or viruses. Viral pink eye is highly contagious and usually goes away on its own. Bacterial conjunctivitis on the other hand can be treated with antibacterial eye ointments while antihistamines can take away allergic conjunctivitis.


Blepharitis is also an inflammation problem affecting the eyelid margin. It brings along symptoms such as stinging eyes, itchy eyelids, a gritty sensation, irritated watery eyes and formation of crusty debris on the base of the eyelashes. 

The condition is thought to be a precursor of other eye conditions such as dry eyes and Meibomian gland dysfunction. It is possible for it to occur at the same time with conjunctivitis. Treatment may involve eyelid scrubs to get rid of buildup as well as other eyelid hygiene procedures.


A stye is also referred to as a hordeolum and occurs when an eyelash hair follicle gets infected. As a result, there is clogging of the Meibomian gland found on the eyelid’s base. It brings along production of yellow pus that causes eyelid crusting and discomfort while blinking. Additional signs include swollen eyelids, tenderness and redness. Styes tend to resolve on their own and it is important to refrain from draining the pus out as this will increase the risk of spreading the infection to other parts of the eye.

Contact Lenses

People that wear contact lenses should adopt a good eye care regimen to ensure they do not experience eye infections. Since wearing contact lenses involves inserting something foreign using your fingers, the process makes your eyes susceptible to infections. The different parts that may be affected include the eyeball, cornea or the inner surface of the eyelid.

The symptoms of an eye infection when wearing contact lenses will include swelling, pain, redness, dry eyes, sensitivity to light, itching and yellow or creamy eye boogers. If you experience these, consult your optician for prompt diagnosis and treatment.

Foreign Body in Eye

The presence of debris and dirt in the eyes can see the secretion of eye discharge in a bid to offer natural protection as well as try to flush out the substances. As a result, you may end up having eye boogers at the corner of your eyes until the foreign substance is removed from the eyes.


Trauma on the eye caused by blunt objects, direct contact, accidents or getting hit by something will lead to your delicate eyes getting injured. Eye injuries can also cause production of excessive eye discharge. Where there is pus or hemorrhage, it is important to seek medical treatment immediately for treatment and to ensure that secondary infections do not occur.

Corneal Ulcer

A corneal ulcer is an infection resulting in the formation of an abscess on the cornea. This may be caused by trauma being inflicted on the eye or when eye infections are left untreated. If this is neglected, the patient may end up with visual impairment.

Eye Boogers in Toddlers, Babies or Newborns

When babies are born, their tear ducts are usually underdeveloped. Since these are responsible for draining off tears from the eyes to the nasal cavity, this function is not met. As a result, a baby may suffer blocked tear duct which brings about symptoms such as constant tearing even during those times that a baby is not crying and the presence of eye boogers in toddlers seen as some sticky mucus that collects on the eyelids.

Although most blocked tear ducts in toddlers resolve on their own, it is important to see a doctor for a comprehensive eye exam on your newborn. To get rid of the gunk, you need to keep cleaning up the eyes by wiping them off using a clean moist piece of cloth. 

Where the eye boogers on your toddler are green or yellow and accompanied by swelling and redness, it is possible that the eyes have an infection. See the doctor immediately so they can offer timely treatment.

Lots of Eye Boogers During The Day

Rheum is a thin layer of mucus that gets discharged naturally from the mouth, nose and eyes. It is made up of oil, dust particles, skin cells and mucus. The type of rheum that forms in the eyes is referred to as gound. It is what crusts and forms eye boogers.

During the day when one is not sleeping, the act of blinking acts as a cleansing mechanism which ensures that the rheum is washed away from the eyes through the tear ducts. As a result, eye boogers do not accumulate during the day but are instead seen at night as you sleep when blinking does not occur.

However, for a few people, some conditions could lead to a buildup of gunk even when the eyes are active and blinking. This could occur due to overactive oil glands or having tear ducts that are blocked. It is also possible to experience lots of eye boogers when sick.

How to get Rid of Eye Boogers

Once you experience them, the most immediate concern usually is how to get rid of eye boogers. When it comes to their removal, it is easy to do at home. Follow the procedure below.
  1. Safety is paramount when getting rid of eye boogers as mishandling the eyes could result in more problems. To start with, it is important to soften the gunk. Use a moist wash cloth to gently press on the affected eye. Do this for a few minutes.
  2. Once the boogers are soft enough to come off effortlessly, use another clean and moist wash cloth to wipe towards the eyes’ outer corners.
  3. Where the eye boogers keep appearing throughout the day, use a clean wash cloth each time to avoid cross infection. Also ensure that you use a different wash cloth for each eye. 

Eye Boogers Prevention

When managing eye boogers and in order to prevent future occurrence, put into place the following tips.
  • Avoid touching your eyes as this enhances the spreading of infections.
  • When suffering conjunctivitis, wash your hands frequently to prevent spreading it.
  • Whenever any form of eye infection sets in, discard any cosmetic products that may have been contaminated.
  • To reduce the risk of eye boogers occurring as a result of contact lens complications, remove them and talk to your optician. You could also consider using disposable contacts.
  • Avoid being exposed to allergens if they are the cause of eye discharge. This can be achieved by eliminating the irritants or avoiding environments that may expose them to you.
Like discussed above, a small amount of eye boogers poses no harm to your eye health. However, if you notice your eyes producing a lot of eye boogers and when the discharge takes a green or yellow coloration, it could be as a result of an infection. Seek medical advice immediately.




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