When Your Child Has a Stye

When Your Child Has a Stye

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When Your Child Has a Stye

Closeup of eye with finger holding down lower eyelid to show stye. A stye is a common problem in children. It’s an infection that appears as a red bump or swelling near the rim of the upper or lower eyelid. Though a stye can irritate the eye and cause redness, it should not be confused with pink eye (conjunctivitis). Unlike pink eye, a stye is not contagious. It’s not a serious problem and can be easily treated.

What Causes a Stye?

A stye is caused by a clogged oil gland near the rim of the eyelid.

What Are the Symptoms of a Stye?

  • Red bump or swelling near the eyelid

  • Itchiness of the eye and eyelid

  • Feeling that an object is in the eye

How Is a Stye Diagnosed?

A stye is diagnosed by how it looks. To get more information, the doctor will ask about your child’s symptoms and health history. The doctor will also examine your child. You will be told if any tests are needed. Boy sitting in chair. Woman holding warm compress to his eye.

How Is a Stye Treated?

  • To help relieve your child’s symptoms, apply a warm compress to the stye 3–4 times a day. This can be done with a warm, clean washcloth. A bottle filled with warm water, or a potato warmed in the microwave and wrapped in a towel, can also be used as a compress.

  • Do not squeeze or touch the stye. If the stye drains on its own, cleanse the eye with a warm, clean washcloth.

  • While most styes do not require treatment, the doctor may prescribe antibiotic eyedrops or eye ointment.

  • If your child does not get better within 4–6 weeks, he or she may be referred to an ophthalmologist. This is a doctor who specializes in treating eye problems. In rare cases, a stye may need to be drained or removed.

Call the doctor if your child has any of the following:

  • In an infant under 3 months old, a rectal temperature of 100.4°F (38.0°C) or higher

  • In a child 3 to 36 months, a rectal temperature of 102°F (39.0°C) or higher

  • In a child of any age who has a temperature of 103°F (39.4°C) or higher

  • A fever that lasts more than 24-hours in a child under 2 years old, or for 3 days in a child 2 years or older

  • Your child has had a seizure caused by the fever

  • Red or warm skin around the affected eye

  • Drainage from the stye

  • Trouble seeing from the affected eye

  • A stye that won’t go away even with treatment

  • Styes that keep coming back