My Child Has... Article

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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 B.D. Schmitt, MD, author of "Your Child's Health," Bantam Books.
Published by RelayHealth.
Last modified: 2009-11-23
Last reviewed: 2010-06-02

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 health care professional.

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