Thumbnail image of: Stye: Illustration

Stye: Brief Version

What is a stye?

A stye is a minor infection of the area where an eyelash is attached to the eye (hair follicle). It is caused by a bacteria. Your child’s eye will have:

  • A tender, red bump at the base of an eyelash
  • A small pimple at the base of an eyelash

How can I take care of my child?

  • Put a warm cloth on the eye.

    Put a warm, wet washcloth on the eye for 10 minutes 4 times a day. This helps the stye come to a head (show pus in the center). Continue to cleanse the eye with warm water even after the stye drains.

  • Open the stye that comes to a head.

    When the stye has a center of pus, keep using warm washcloths. Most styes will open and drain by themselves a few days after they come to a head. Sometimes a stye needs to drained by your healthcare provider. Do not try to open the stye yourself. It could cause a bad infection.

  • Use antibiotic eye ointment.

    Bad styes or styes that come back may need an antibiotic eye ointment prescribed by your child’s doctor.

How can my child prevent the stye from spreading?

Tell your child not to touch his eyes because rubbing can cause spread of the infection to other eyelashes. Children with a sty usually do not need to miss any school or child care.

Call your child’s doctor right away if:

  • The eyelid becomes very red and causes a fever.

Call your child’s doctor during office hours if:

  • The stye comes to a head and has not drained by 3 days.
  • The stye is not completely healed by 10 days.
  • Styes come back.
  • You have other concerns or questions.
Written by Barton D. Schmitt, MD, author of “My Child Is Sick,” American Academy of Pediatrics Books.
Pediatric Advisor 2015.1 published by RelayHealth.
Last modified: 2012-05-15
Last reviewed: 2014-06-10
This content is reviewed periodically and is subject to change as new health information becomes available. The information is intended to inform and educate and is not a replacement for medical evaluation, advice, diagnosis or treatment by a healthcare professional.
Copyright ©1986-2015 Barton D. Schmitt, MD. All rights reserved.

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