Clinical Reference Systems: Pediatric Advisor 10.0
Eye Infection with Pus (Bacterial)
- yellow discharge in the eye
- eyelids stuck together with pus, especially after
- dried eye discharge on the upper cheek
- white part of eyes may or may not have some redness or
- eyelids usually puffy due to irritation from the
This condition is also called bacterial conjunctivitis,
runny eyes, or mattery eyes.
Note: A small amount of cream-colored mucus in the inner
corner of the eyes after sleeping is normal.
Eye infections with pus are caused by bacteria and can be a
complication of a cold. Pink eyes without a yellow
discharge, however, are more common and are due to a virus.
With proper treatment the yellow discharge should clear up
in 72 hours. The red eyes (which are due to the cold) may
persist for several more days.
- Cleaning the eye
Before putting in any medicines, remove all the pus from
the eye with warm water and wet cotton balls. Unless
this is done, the medicine will not have a chance to
- Antibiotic eyedrops or ointments
Bacterial conjunctivitis must be treated with an
antibiotic eye medicine prescribed by your child's
Putting eyedrops or ointment in the eyes of young
children can be a real battle. Ideally it's done with
two adults. One person can hold the child still while
the other person opens the eyelids with one hand and
puts in the medicine with the other. One person can do
it alone if she sits on the floor holding the child's
head (face up) between the knees to free both hands to
put in the medication.
If your physician has prescribed antibiotic eyedrops,
put two drops in each eye every 2 hours while your child
is awake. Do this by gently pulling down on the lower
lid and placing the drops there. As soon as the
eyedrops have been put in the eyes, have your child
close them for 2 minutes so the eyedrops will stay
inside. If it is difficult to separate your child's
eyelids, put the eyedrops over the inner corner of the
eye while he is lying down. When your child opens his
eye and blinks, the eyedrops will flow in. Continue the
eyedrops until your child has awakened two mornings in a
row without any pus in the eyes.
If your physician has prescribed antibiotic eye
ointment, the ointment needs to be used just four times
a day because it can remain in the eyes longer than
eyedrops. Separate the eyelids and put in a ribbon of
ointment along the lower eyelid from one corner of the
eye to the other. If it is very difficult to separate
your child's eyelids, put the ointment on the edges of
the eyelids. As the ointment melts from body heat, it
will flow onto the eyeball. Continue until two mornings
have passed without any pus in the eye.
- Contact lenses
Children with contact lenses need to switch to glasses
temporarily. This will prevent damage to the cornea.
The pus from the eyes can cause eye infections in other
people if they get some of it on their eyes. Therefore,
it is very important for the sick child to have his own
washcloth and towel. He should be encouraged not to
touch or rub his eyes because it can make his infection
last longer. Touching his eyes also puts a lot of germs
on his fingers. Your child's hands should be washed
often to prevent spreading the infection.
After using eyedrops for 24 hours, and if the pus is
minimal, children can return to day care or school.
CALL YOUR CHILD'S PHYSICIAN IMMEDIATELY IF:
- The outer eyelids become very red or swollen.
- The vision becomes blurred.
- Your child starts acting very sick.
CALL YOUR CHILD'S PHYSICIAN WITHIN 24 HOURS IF:
- The infection isn't cleared up after 3 days of treatment.
- Your child develops an earache.
- You have other concerns or questions.