Conjunctivitis Treatment in Babies

Conjunctivitis Treatment in Babies

Conjunctivitis is a common eye condition in children. It is characterized by redness of an eye due to inflammation of the conjunctiva which is an outer membrane that covers the surface of the eye. It is very common for parents to seek treatment for this condition even though in several cases, conjunctivitis is a self-limiting condition. Conjunctivitis can affect one or both eyes. It can be caused by:

  • Irritants for example chlorine in the water
  • Allergens such as pollen  
  • Bacteria (bacterial conjunctivitis)
  • Viruses (viral conjunctivitis)

The symptoms of conjunctivitis in babies may include:

  • Discomfort  
  • Itchiness and burning sensation       
  • Swollen eyelid
  • Watery eye
  • Red or pink eyes

It is common for babies to get this condition during an episode of a cold. Even though it can be difficult to differentiate between different types of conjunctivitis, taking a medical history and description of the symptoms can help with diagnosis.

The risk of conjunctivitis spreading can be lessened by:

  • Not sharing clothes and towels
  • Regular handwash when in contact with baby
  • Maintain a clean environment, for instance, clean toys which are shared 

Treatment for Conjunctivitis

Chloramphenicol is an antibiotic used for the treatment of conjunctivitis. This is available as:

  • Chloramphenicol 1% Eye Ointment
  • Chloramphenicol 0.5% Eye Drops

Both eye ointment and eye drops are pharmacy-only medications. Both forms of Chloramphenicol are available as branded or generic products. Chloramphenicol eye ointment and eye drops are licensed for children aged two years and over. A doctor or another qualified prescriber may prescribe Chloramphenicol to babies or toddlers under the age of 2.

How frequent is Chloramphenicol Eye Drops used?

Follow the instructions given for the administration of eye drops. The approved dose for Chloramphenicol Eye Drops:

  • One drop to be instilled into the affected eye every two hours for the first 48 hours, every four hours.
  • The eye drops must be used for five days although symptoms improve.
  • Eye drops do not need to be instilled at night when the baby is asleep.

Other relevant information about the eye drops:

  • It is suggested to throw away eye drops after five days, even though shelf life once opens is 28 days.
  • Eye drops need to be kept in the fridge.

How frequent is Chloramphenicol Eye Ointment used?

The Chloramphenicol Eye Ointment is applied by pulling down the lower eyelid of the baby in the space between the lower eyelid and the eye. The recommended dose for Chloramphenicol Eye Ointment is:

  • This should be used for five days, even if symptoms improve.
  • To be applied to the affected eye 3-4 times a day for five days.

Other relevant information about Chloramphenicol Eye Ointment:

  • It is suggested to throw away the Chloramphenicol Eye Ointment after five days, even though shelf life is 28 days once open.
  • This ointment does not have to be kept in the fridge.

Sometimes patients might choose to use Chloramphenicol Eye Drops during the day and the Chloramphenicol Eye Ointment at night before going to bed. Serious side effects of hypersensitivity to Chloramphenicol both eye drops or ointment have been reported. Symptoms of such a reaction may include facial rash, swelling, or fever.

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