Eye Infections in Kids

Pink eye isn’t the only eye problem found in babies and children that parents should be aware of, a CHOC Children’s infectious disease specialist says. eye infections

Here are some other eye issues that Dr. Negar Ashouri recommends parents keep on their radars:

  • A stye (or sty): This is a small, painful lump, usually found on the inside or outside of the eyelid. It’s an occlusion of the glands around the eye and can become infected but does not affect vision. Applying a warm compress to the eye a few times daily will help it drain and heal. Eye drops can help if it’s infected.
  • Blocked tear duct: Infants’ tear ducts can sometimes get blocked, making the inner eye close to the nasal bridge appear swollen. This typically can happen in the first few weeks of life and does not affect vision. A parent or caregiver can massage the area to help open the duct, and often it will open on its own. If not, eye drops will help.
  • Herpes infections in or around the eye: Children can get a herpes viral infection of the eye. This occurs after close contact with someone who has a cold sore (i.e. kisses) or from autoinoculation from HSV in the mouth. After the primary infection, it can also reactivate at a later time.

If parents notice small red bumps or blisters on the skin around the child’s eye and also redness in the eye, call a medical professional.

“You do need to seek medical care for this because the child can be put on anti-viral medication,” Dr. Ashouri says. “This is a dangerous problem because it can lead to blindness.”

Dr. Ashouri says it’s important to call the doctor or seek medical help for any of these problems or an eye infection if these symptoms are accompanied by visual changes or the eye becomes very red.

Learn more about infectious disease services at CHOC.

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Kids and the Immune System

girl getting a shotTHE IMMUNE SYSTEM
“Our immune system is a series of cells, tissues and organs that, throughout our lifetime, protects us from different invading pathogens and keeps us healthy and able to resist many repeated infections,” says Dr. Ashouri, a pediatric infectious disease specialist at CHOC. “When babies are infants, they get immune cells from mom through the placenta and breast milk, if they are breastfeeding. Over time, the baby’s system becomes mature and can fight off infections. A healthy lifestyle that includes getting enough rest, low stress and a balanced diet plus exercise helps to strengthen the immune system in people of all ages.”

“Breastfeeding is probably one of the best ways to help support a baby’s immune system when it’s developing,” explains Dr. Ashouri. “Getting babies the recommended vaccines at the scheduled times also helps to protect them from the different infections they are at risk for at that age. We recommend that parents and children also get a flu shot each year and are up-to-date with their Tdap vaccine to protect kids from pertussis (whooping cough). The
more people in the community who are vaccinated, the better it is for everyone. In pockets of areas where vaccine rates have fallen, there have been outbreaks of measles, whooping cough and other preventable diseases.”

“Proper hand-washing is important to prevent the spread of colds and the flu virus and other types of infections. When kids can’t wash their hands, they should use a hand sanitizer to kill germs. Getting kids vaccinated against the flu also prevents kids from getting the flu,” Dr. Ashouri says. She adds, “Over time as the immune system recognizes certain viruses, it will get better at preventing infection, especially if the person has a balanced diet and good lifestyle. Taking vitamins won’t hurt either but they don’t replace a well-balanced diet.”


  • Number of infants who died in California’s 2010 Pertussis (Whooping Cough) outbreak. It was the worst outbreak in 60 years. More than 9,000 cases were reported: 10
  • Percent of the U.S. population that gets the seasonal flu (Influenza) each year: 5 to 20
  • Number of children hospitalized in the U.S. each year with respiratory infections: 500,000

View the full feature on Kids and the Immune System

Dr. Negar Ashouri
Dr. Negar Ashouri
CHOC Pediatric Infectious
Disease Specialist


Dr. Ashouri completed her residency at CHOC, followed by a year as chief resident. After completing a fellowship in pediatric infectious diseases at Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles, she returned to CHOC. She is also a clinical instructor of Pediatrics at the UC Irvine School of Medicine.

Dr. Ashouri is involved in many research projects dealing with bloodstream infections and drug trials. She is also part of the Collaborative Antiviral Study Group. To further her research, Dr. Ashouri maintains an ongoing database of blood cultures and can frequently be found looking back through patient data and charts as she investigates how vaccines impact infections and specific risk factors for high-risk groups.

St. George’s University School of Medicine, Grenada, West Indies

Pediatric Infectious Disease

More about Dr. Ashouri

This article was featured in the Orange County Register on March 9, 2014 and was written by Amy Bentley.

How Effective are Hand Sanitizers?

SONY DSCThough old-fashioned hand-washing is the best way to keep hands clean and combat germs, gel hand sanitizers are a good alternative when soap and water aren’t readily available, a CHOC Children’s physician says.

“They certainly don’t take the place of proper hand-washing,” says Dr. Negar Ashouri, a CHOC infectious disease specialist. “That is still the best way to help prevent the spread of infection. But when you don’t have access to soap and water, hand sanitizers are a good alternative.”

Hand sanitizers can also supplement hand-washing, Dr. Ashouri says. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends scrubbing hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. However, the average person doesn’t always wash their hands long enough or effectively enough to kill germs entirely. In addition, people don’t always use enough soap, or they don’t clean the entire hand.

If you coat the whole hand with the gel, alcohol-based hand sanitizers work well to help kill germs, she says. The CDC notes that alcohol-based hand sanitizers can quickly reduce the number of microbes on hands in some situations, but sanitizers do not eliminate all types of germs.

Hand sanitizers should be alcohol-based and have a concentration of at least 60 percent alcohol to be effective. Dr. Ashouri says any brand is fine as long as it meets that level of alcohol concentration.

Also, she adds that it’s a myth that people build a resistance to gel sanitizers and that long-term use renders them ineffective.

Learn more about CHOC’s infectious disease division.

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