How to give your child eye ointment

This page provides information on how to give your child eye ointment and how to look after the medicine.

What to do

  1. Wash your hands.
  2. Get your child into any of these positions to apply the eye ointment:
    • tilt your child’s head back
    • lay your child flat on their back
    • ask someone to hold your child in a safe position
    • wrap your baby or young child in a light blanket or sheet to keep his or her arms and legs still
  3. Remove the top from the tube and throw away the plastic seal.
  4. Gently pull down your child’s lower eyelid.

Avoid touching the end of the tube against your child’s eye, eyelashes or any other surface.

  1. Apply a half-inch (1cm) strip of ointment inside the inner surface of your child’s lower eyelid.
  2. Let go of their lower eyelid and ask your child to close their eyes for a few minutes.
  3. Put the top back on the ointment tube.
  4. After a few minutes, ask your child to blink a few times to make sure the whole of the eye is covered by the ointment.
  5. Wipe away any excess with a clean tissue.

Eye ointment will make your child’s eyes appear ‘sticky’, especially after sleeping. Wipe any stickiness away with a clean tissue dampened with cooled, boiled water.

Storing the eye ointment safely

  • Always check the expiry date of the medicine before giving it to your child.
  • Keep the tube tightly closed in a cool, dark place according to the label.
  • Read the instructions on the label and only use the ointment in the affected eye. If you are given a different tube for each eye, make sure you use the correct tube for each eye.
  • Eye ointments should not be used more than four weeks after you first open the tube. This is because they can become dirty and infected. If you are giving your child eye ointment for a certain number of days, write the date you open the tube on the label so you will know when to throw it away.
  • Keep all medicines out of the reach of children.

If you have any questions about your child’s eye ointment, please ask your family doctor (GP) or local community pharmacist.

Compiled by: 
The Pharmacy department in collaboration with the Child and Family Information Group.
Last review date: 
April 2020


Please read this information sheet from GOSH alongside the patient information leaflet (PIL) provided by the manufacturer. If you do not have a copy of the manufacturer’s patient information leaflet please talk to your pharmacist. A few products do not have a marketing authorisation (licence) as a medicine and therefore there is no PIL.

For children in particular, there may be conflicts of information between the manufacturer’s patient information leaflet (PIL) and guidance provided by GOSH and other healthcare providers. For example, some manufacturers may recommend, in the patient information leaflet, that a medicine is not given to children aged under 12 years. In most cases, this is because the manufacturer will recruit adults to clinical trials in the first instance and therefore the initial marketing authorisation (licence) only covers adults and older children.  

For new medicines, the manufacturer then has to recruit children and newborns into trials (unless the medicine is not going to be used in children and newborns) and subsequently amend the PIL with the approved information. Older medicines may have been used effectively for many years in children without problems but the manufacturer has not been required to collect data and amend the licence. This does not mean that it is unsafe for children and young people to be prescribed such a medicine ‘off-licence/off-label’. However, if you are concerned about any conflicts of information, please discuss with your doctor, nurse or pharmacist.