Eye Infections and Irritations

Infected Tear Duct

Infected Tear Duct

What is Infected Tear Duct?

A tiny channel called a tear duct runs from the inner corner of each of your eyelids to the inside of your nose. Usually, your tear ducts drain away the tears and mucus that your eyes produce naturally, without you even knowing. However, if your tear ducts become infected, this drainage system may not work properly and you may start to produce lots of extra tears as well as discharge (pus). The inner corner of your eyelid may also become red and swollen. Tear duct infection (dacryocystitis) can happen at any age but is most common in babies.


Your tear ducts can become infected if they are blocked and bacteria are allowed to collect and multiply in them. Sometimes this can happen because of the way your bones have developed around your tear ducts. It can also happen if you have an injury to your eyes or nose, e.g. a broken nose.

Babies are often born with blocked tear ducts. This does not usually lead to infection, so is not necessarily a problem. In most cases, the blocked duct will have corrected itself by the time the baby is one or two years old.

Symptoms of Infected Tear Duct

The symptoms of an infected tear duct usually include:

  • Pain, redness and swelling of the lower eyelid, near the nose
  • Excessive tear production
  • Pus or discharge from the eye
  • Fever

Treatments for Inflamed Tear Ducts

If you think you or your baby have an infected tear duct, you should see your eye care practitioner. Most cases respond quickly to treatment with antibiotics, but if this does not work, minor surgery may be recommended.

If your baby has a blocked tear duct that is not infected, you can help to avoid infection by keeping the skin around their eyes clean and dry with cotton wool and clean water. If the skin gets sore, you can protect it by applying petroleum jelly to the sore area after you have cleaned and dried it. Tear duct massage may also help to clear the blockage. You can do this by applying pressure to the inner corner of the eyelids several times a day.

Always consult your eye care practitioner for further advice.