Eye - Pus or Discharge  

This Care Guide Covers:

  • Yellow or green discharge (pus) in the eye
  • Often caused by a bacterial eye infection

If not, see these topics
When to Call Your Doctor

Call Your Doctor Now (night or day) If
  • Your child looks or acts very sick
  • Eyelid is very red or very swollen
  • Vision is blurred
  • Eye pain and more than mild
  • Fever over 104° F (40° C)
  • Age under 12 weeks old with fever. (Caution: Do NOT give your baby any fever medicine before being seen.)
  • You think your child needs to be seen urgently
Call Your Doctor Within 24 Hours (between 9 am and 4 pm) If
  • Pus in the eye, but none of the symptoms above. Reason: You may need antibiotic eyedrops to treat it.
  • Using antibiotic eye drops over 3 days and pus is still there
Causes & Health Information

Symptoms

  • Yellow or green discharge or pus in the eye
  • Dried pus on the eyelids and eyelashes
  • The eyelashes are more likely to be stuck together after sleep
  • The whites of the eye may or may not be red or pink
  • The eyelids are often puffy

Cause

  • Bacterial infection of the eye. This often occurs after having a cold in the eye.
  • A small amount of pus only in the corner of the eye is not important. Often, it's due to an irritant or virus.

Return to School

  • Your child can go back to school when the pus is a small amount. Antibiotic eye drops should be used for 24 hours before going back.
CARE ADVICE FOR PUS IN THE EYE (Until Talking with Your Doctor)

  1. What You Should Know:  
    • Bacterial eye infections are common with colds.
    • They respond to home treatment with antibiotic eyedrops which need a prescription.
    • They are not harmful to vision.
    • Until you get some antibiotic eye drops, here is some advice that should help.
  2. Remove Pus:
    • Remove all the dried and liquid pus from the eyelids. Use warm water and wet cotton balls to do this.
    • Do this whenever pus is seen on the eyelids.
    • Also, remove the pus before the antibiotic eye drops are put in. Reason: They will not work if you don't.
    • The pus can spread infection to others. So, dispose of it carefully.
    • Wash your hands well after any contact with the pus.
  3. Antibiotic Eye Drops: How to Give
    • For a cooperative child, gently pull down on the lower lid. Put 1 drop inside the lower lid. Then ask your child to close the eye for 2 minutes. Reason: So the medicine will get into the tissues.
    • For a child who won't open his eye, have him lie down. Put 1 drop over the inner corner of the eye. If your child opens the eye or blinks, the eye drop will flow in. If he doesn't open the eye, the drop will slowly seep into the eye.
  4. Contact Lenses:
    • Children who wear contact lenses need to switch to glasses for a while.
    • Reason: To prevent damage to the cornea.
    • Disinfect the contacts before wearing them again.
    • Discard them if they are disposable.
  5. Return to School:
    • Your child can return to school when the pus is a small amount.
    • Antibiotic eyedrops should be used for 24 hours before going back.
    • The antibiotic eyedrops can be used for other family members. Use only if they develop the same symptoms.
  6. What to Expect:
    • With treatment, the yellow discharge should clear up in 3 days.
    • The red eyes may last up to a week.
  7. Call Your Doctor If:
    • Eyelid gets red or swollen
    • Your child becomes worse

And remember, contact your doctor if your child develops any of the "Call Your Doctor" symptoms.
DOWNLOAD THE APP

This free app has a symptom checker,
dosage tables for common medications,
home health advice and more.

Apple version of the MD 4KIDS app
Android version of the MD 4KIDS app

Disclaimer: This information is not intended be a substitute for professional medical advice. It is provided for educational purposes only. You assume full responsibility for how you choose to use this information.


Author and Senior Reviewer: Barton D. Schmitt, M.D.

Last Reviewed: 9/1/2012

Last Revised: 12/6/2012

Content Set: Child Symptom Checker

Copyright 1994-2012 Barton D. Schmitt, M.D.