Bacterial Conjunctivitis

What is Bacterial Conjunctivitis

Bacterial conjunctivitis is an infection of your conjunctiva. This is the clear membrane that covers the white part of your eye and the inner surface of your eyelid. This condition can make your eye:

  • Red or pink.
  • Itchy.

This condition is caused by bacteria. This condition spreads very easily from person to person (is contagious) and from one eye to the other eye.

Follow these instructions at home:

Medicines

  • Take or apply your antibiotic medicine as told by your doctor. Do not stop taking or applying the antibiotic even if you start to feel better.
  • Take or apply over-the-counter and prescription medicines only as told by your doctor.
  • Do nottouch your eyelid with the eye drop bottle or the ointment tube.

Managing discomfort

  • Wipe any fluid from your eye with a warm, wet washcloth or a cotton ball.
  • Place a cool, clean washcloth on your eye. Do this for 10–20 minutes, 3–4 times per day.

General instructions

  • Do notwear contact lenses until the irritation is gone. Wear glasses until your doctor says it is okay to wear contacts.
  • Do notwear eye makeup until your symptoms are gone. Throw away any old makeup.
  • Change or wash your pillowcase every day.
  • Do notshare towels or washcloths with anyone.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water. Use paper towels to dry your hands.
  • Do nottouch or rub your eyes.
  • Do notdrive or use heavy machinery if your vision is blurry.

Contact a doctor if:

  • You have a fever.
  • Your symptoms do not get better after 10 days.

Get help right away if:

  • You have a fever and your symptoms suddenly get worse.
  • You have very bad pain when you move your eye.
  • Your face:
    • Hurts.
    • Is red.
    • Is swollen.
  • You have sudden loss of vision.

Bacterial Conjunctivitis, Pediatric

Bacterial conjunctivitis is an infection of the clear membrane that covers the white part of the eye and the inner surface of the eyelid (conjunctiva). It causes the blood vessels in the conjunctiva to become inflamed. The eye becomes red or pink and may be itchy. Bacterial conjunctivitis can spread very easily from person to person (is contagious). It can also spread easily from one eye to the other eye.

What are the causes?

This condition is caused by a bacterial infection. Your child may get the infection if he or she has close contact with another person who has the bacteria or items that have the bacteria, such as towels.

What are the signs or symptoms?

Symptoms of this condition include:

  • Thick, yellow discharge or pus coming from the eyes.
  • Eyelids that stick together because of the pus or crusts.
  • Pink or red eyes.
  • Sore or painful eyes.
  • Tearing or watery eyes.
  • Itchy eyes.
  • A burning feeling in the eyes.
  • Swollen eyelids.
  • Feeling like something is stuck in the eyes.
  • Blurry vision.
  • Having an ear infection at the same time.

How is this diagnosed?

This condition is diagnosed based on:

  • Your child’s symptoms and medical history.
  • An exam of your child’s eye.
  • Testing a sample of discharge or pus from your child’s eye.

How is this treated?

Treatment for this condition includes:

  • Antibiotic medicines. These may be:
    • Eye drops or ointments to clear the infection quickly and to prevent the spread of infection to others.
    • Pill or liquid medicine taken by mouth (oral medicine). Oral medicine may be used to treat infections that do not respond to drops or ointments, or infections that last longer than 10 days.
  • Placing cool, wet cloths (cool compresses) on your child’s eyes.
  • Putting artificial tears in the eye 2–6 times a day.

Follow these instructions at home:

Medicines

  • Give or apply over-the-counter and prescription medicines only as told by your child’s health care provider.
  • Give antibiotic medicine, drops, and ointment as told by your child’s health care provider.Do notstop giving the antibiotic even if your child’s condition improves.
  • Avoid touching the edge of the affected eyelid with the eye drop bottle or ointment tube when applying medicines to your child’s affected eye. This will stop the spread of infection to the other eye or to other people.

Prevent spreading the infection

  • Do notlet your child share towels, pillowcases, or washcloths.
  • Do notlet your child share eye makeup, makeup brushes, contact lenses, or glasses with others.
  • Have your child wash her or his hands often with soap and water. If soap and water are not available, have your child use hand sanitizer. Have your child use paper towels to dry her or his hands.
  • Have your child avoid contact with other children for 1 week or as long as told by your child’s health care provider.

General instructions

  • Gently wipe away any drainage from your child’s eye with a warm, wet washcloth or a cotton ball.
  • Apply a cool compress to your child’s eye for 10–20 minutes, 3–4 times a day.
  • Do not let your child wear contact lenses until the inflammation is gone and your health care provider says it is safe to wear them again. Ask your health care provider how to clean (sterilize) or replace your child’s contact lenses before using them again. Have your child wear glasses until he or she can start wearing contacts again.
  • Do notlet your child wear eye makeup until the inflammation is gone. Throw away any old eye makeup that may contain bacteria.
  • Change or wash your child’s pillowcase every day.
  • Have your child avoid touching or rubbing his or her eyes.
  • Keep all follow-up visits as told by your child’s health care provider. This is important.

Contact a health care provider if:

  • Your child has a fever.
  • Your child’s symptoms get worse or do not get better with treatment.
  • Your child’s symptoms do not get better after 10 days.
  • Your child’s vision becomes blurry.

Get help right away if:

  • Your child who is younger than 3 months has a temperature of 100°F (38°C) or higher.
  • Your child cannot see.
  • Your child has severe pain in the eyes.
  • Your child has facial pain, redness, or swelling.

Summary

  • Bacterial conjunctivitis is an infection of the clear membrane that covers the white part of the eye and the inner surface of the eyelid.
  • Thick, yellow discharge or pus coming from your child’s eye is the most common symptom of bacterial conjunctivitis.
  • The most common treatment is antibiotic medicines. The medicine may be pills, drops, or ointment. Do not stop giving your child the antibiotic even if your child starts to feel better.
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