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Chloramphenicol for eye infections

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Chloramphenicol for eye infections

This leaflet is about the use of chloramphenicol for the treatment of bacterial eye infections.

Information-Standard-logoThis leaflet has been written specifically for parents and carers about the use of this medicine in children. The information may differ from that provided by the manufacturer. Please read this leaflet carefully. Keep it somewhere safe so that you can read it again.
 

Name of drug

Chloramphenicol
Brand names:
Chloromycetin® Redidrops (eye drops), Chloromycetin® eye ointment, Minims® Chloramphenicol (eye drops)

Why is it important for my child to use this medicine?

Chloramphenicol is an antibiotic. By giving the eye medicine regularly in the way that your doctor has told you to, it should kill the harmful bacteria and get rid of your child’s infection.

What is chloramphenicol available as?

  • Eye drops (0.5% chloramphenicol)
  • Eye ointment (1% chloramphenicol)

When should I give chloramphenicol?

Eye drops
  • Give four times a day. This is usually first thing in the morning, at about midday, late in the afternoon and at bedtime. Ideally these times should be at least 4 hours apart (e.g. 8 am, midday, 4 pm, 8 pm).
  • If the infection is severe, your doctor may tell you to use the drops every 2 hours for the first 48 hours.
  • Your doctor may give you ointment to use at bedtime instead of drops.
Eye ointment
  • Apply four times a day. This is usually first thing in the morning, at about midday, late in the afternoon and at bedtime. Ideally these times should be at least 4 hours apart (e.g. 8 am, midday, 4 pm, 8 pm).

Continue to give the drops or ointment four times a day for 3 days after all signs of the infection have gone.

Give chloramphenicol at about the same times each day so that this becomes part of your child’s daily routine, which will help you to remember.

How much should I use?

Your doctor will work out the amount of chloramphenicol (the dose) that is right for your child. The dose will be shown on the medicine label.

It is important that you follow your doctor’s instructions about how much to give.

How should I give it?

  • Use the drops or ointment only in the infected eye, unless your doctor has told you to treat both eyes.
  • Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and hot water before and after giving the drops or ointment.
  • The drops or ointment are easiest to give when your child is lying down.
  • You may need help from another adult to help give eye medicine, especially in small children and babies. One of you can hold the child still and one can give the drops or ointment. You may find it helpful to wrap a small child or baby in a blanket to help keep them still.
How to give eye drops
  • For older children, gently pull the lower lid out and squeeze the bottle gently so that one drop goes into the pocket that is formed.Giving eye drops to a small child
  • In small children and babies, place the drop into the inner corner of the eye. This is easier with the eye open, but the liquid will still drain on to the eye even with a closed eye if you can hold your child’s head still for a few seconds.
  • After giving eye drops, your child should keep their eye closed for as long as they can (5 seconds if possible) so that the eye drop doesn’t spill out.
  • If you think the drop didn’t go into the eye, you can repeat the process but do not try more than twice.
  • Try to avoid the tip of the tube touching any part of your child’s eye, if possible.
  • Wash your hands again with soap and hot water.
How to give eye ointment
  • For older children, gently pull the lower lid out and down and squeeze the tube gently so that a small amount (approximately 1 cm) goes into the pocket that is formed.Giving eye ointment to small child
  • In small children and babies, place the ointment into the inner corner of the eye, preferably with the eye open.
  • After giving the ointment, your child should blink several times to help dissolve the ointment.
  • If you think the ointment didn’t go into the eye, you can repeat the process but do not try more than twice.
  • Try to avoid the tip of the tube touching any part of your child’s eye, if possible.
  • Wash your hands again with soap and hot water.

When should the medicine start working?

The drops/ointment will start to work straight away, although it may take 2–3 days for the eye to look better. It is important that you give the whole course of drops or ointment, as your doctor has told you to even if the infection seems to have gone. This is to make sure that all the bacteria are killed and the infection doesn’t come back.

What if I forget to give it?

Give the missed dose as soon as you remember as long as this is at least 2 hours before the next dose is due.

What if I give too much?

This medicine is unlikely to cause harm if you give too much by mistake. If you are worried that you may have used too much, contact your doctor or local NHS services (111 in England and Scotland; 0845 4647 in Wales). Have the medicine or packaging with you if you telephone for advice.

Are there any possible side-effects?

We use medicines to make our children better, but sometimes they have other effects that we don’t want (side-effects).

Your child’s eyes may sting a little with the first few doses. Other side-effects are unlikely with chloramphenicol eye drops/ointment. If you notice anything unusual and are concerned, contact your doctor.

Can other medicines be given at the same time as chloramphenicol?

  • You can give your child medicines that contain paracetamol or ibuprofen, unless your doctor has told you not to.
  • Check with your doctor or pharmacist before giving any other medicines to your child. This includes herbal or complementary medicines.

Important things to know about taking antibiotics

  • It is important that your child completes the course of antibiotic. If you stop giving the antibiotic too soon, the troublesome bacteria that are left will start to multiply again, and may cause another infection. There is also a risk that these bacteria will be ‘resistant’ to (no longer be killed by) the first antibiotic. This means that it might not work next time, and your child might need a different antibiotic.
  • Try to give the eye drops/ointment at about the same times each day, to help you remember, and to make sure that there is enough in your child’s body to kill the bacteria.
  • Only give these eye drops/ointment to your child for their current infection.
  • Never save medicine for future illnesses. Give old or unused antibiotics to your pharmacist to dispose of.

Is there anything else I need to know about this medicine?

  • If your child rubs the infected eye, they should wash their hands, so that they don’t transfer the infection to the other eye.
  • Children should not wear contact lenses during treatment with eye drops or ointment because the preservatives can cause irritation.
  • If someone swallows eye drops of ointment by accident, it is unlikely to do harm.
  • If your child is using other eye drops/ointments, try to space them out during the course of the day, and do not give at the same time (unless recommended).
  • Once opened, chloramphenicol eye drops/ointment should not be kept for longer than 4 weeks.
  • Only give these drops/ointment to your child for their current infection. Do not save the medicine for future infections. Give old or unused drops/ointment to your pharmacist to dispose of.

General advice about medicines

  • Try to give medicines at about the same times each day, to help you remember.
  • If you are not sure a medicine is working, contact your doctor but continue to give the medicine as usual in the meantime. Do not give extra doses, as you may do harm.
  • Only give this medicine to your child. Never give it to anyone else, even if their condition appears to be the same, as this could do harm.
  • If you think someone else may have used the medicine by accident, contact your doctor for advice.

Where should I keep this medicine?

  • Once opened, the eye drops and ointment can be kept in a cupboard, away from heat and direct sunlight.
  • Eye drops can be kept in a cupboard for up to 7 days but it is better to keep them in a fridge. Make sure that the medicine doesn’t freeze. The drops should be taken out of the fridge 2 hours before using them, so that they do not sting.
  • Make sure that children cannot see or reach the medicine.
  • Keep the medicine in the container it came in.

Who to contact for more information

Your doctor, pharmacist or nurse will be able to give you more information about chloramphenicol and about other medicines used to treat eye infections.

You can also get useful information from: 
Publication date: 
02/11/2012