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Clinical Reference Systems: Pediatric Advisor 10.0

Eye Infection with Pus (for Teenagers)


  • yellow discharge in the eye
  • eyelids stuck together with pus, especially after sleeping
  • dried eye discharge on the upper cheek
  • white part of eyes may or may not have some redness or pinkness
  • eyelids are usually puffy due to irritation from the infection.

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.


  1. Cleaning the eye

    Before putting in any medicines, remove all the pus from your eye with warm water and wet cotton balls. Unless this is done, the medicine will not have a chance to work.

  2. Antibiotic eyedrops or ointments

    Bacterial conjunctivitis must be treated with an antibiotic eye medicine prescribed by your physician.

    If your physician has prescribed antibiotic eyedrops, put two drops in each eye every 2 hours while you are awake. Do this by gently pulling down on your lower lid and placing the drops there. As soon as the eyedrops have been put in the eyes, close them for 2 minutes so the eyedrops will stay inside. Continue the eyedrops until you have awakened two mornings in a row without any pus in your 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 your eyelids and put in a ribbon of ointment along the lower eyelid from one corner of the eye to the other. Continue until two mornings have passed without any pus in your eye.

  3. Contagiousness

    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 you to use your own washcloth and towel. Try not to touch or rub your eyes because it can make your infection last longer. Touching your eyes also puts a lot of germs on your fingers. Rinse your hands often throughout the day to prevent spreading the infection.


  • Your outer eyelids become very red or swollen.


  • The infection isn't cleared up after 3 days on treatment.
  • You develop an earache.
  • You have other concerns or questions.

Written by B.D. Schmitt, M.D., author of "Your Child's Health," Bantam Books.
Copyright 1999 Clinical Reference Systems