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Eye Infection, Bacterial: Brief Version

What is an eye infection?

When your child has an eye infection, you may see:

  • Yellow discharge (pus) in the eye.
  • Eyelids stuck together with pus.
  • Redness or pinkness of the white part of the eyes.
  • Puffy eyelids.

Bacteria cause eye infections with pus. Pink eyes with no pus are caused by a virus.

How can I take care of my child?

Clean the eye.

  • Take away all pus with warm water and wet cotton balls.
  • Do this before you put in any medicine. This will give the medicine a chance to work.

Put in eyedrops or ointment.

This kind of infection must be treated with antibiotic eye drops. Your child's doctor must prescribe these drops.

For eyedrops:

  • Put 1 drop in each eye every 4 hours while your child is awake.
  • Gently pull down on the lower lid and place the drops inside the lower lid.

For ointment:

  • Use the ointment just 4 times a day. It stays in the eyes longer than eyedrops.
  • Open the eyelids.
  • Put a ribbon of ointment along the lower eyelid from one corner of the eye to the other.

How can I prevent my child from spreading the infection?

  • Give your child his own washcloth and towel.
  • Wash your child's hands often.

Call your child's doctor right away if:

  • The outer eyelids get very red or swollen.
  • The eye is painful.
  • Your child's vision is blurred.
  • Your child starts to act very sick.

Call your child's doctor within 24 hours if:

  • The infection hasn't cleared up after you've treated it for 3 days.
  • Your child gets an earache.
  • You have other concerns or questions.
Written by Barton D. Schmitt, MD, author of “My Child Is Sick,” American Academy of Pediatrics Books.
Pediatric Advisor 2013.2 published by RelayHealth.
Last modified: 2009-11-23
Last reviewed: 2012-05-14
This content is reviewed periodically and is subject to change as new health information becomes available. The information is intended to inform and educate and is not a replacement for medical evaluation, advice, diagnosis or treatment by a healthcare professional.
© 2013 RelayHealth and/or its affiliates. All rights reserved.
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