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 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
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 work.
Antibiotic eyedrops or ointments
Bacterial conjunctivitis must be treated with an antibiotic eye medicine
prescribed by your child's physician.
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.
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.
Written by B.D. Schmitt, M.D., author of "Your Child's Health," Bantam
Books. Copyright 1999 Clinical Reference Systems