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What is a stye?

A stye is an infection of the area where an eyelash is attached to the eye (hair follicle). It is usually caused by Staphylococcus bacteria. The stye will look like a red bump at the base of an eyelash and will be tender.

How long does it last?

It usually comes to a head and forms a pimple in 3 to 5 days. In a few more days, it usually drains and heals. It commonly comes back in children who rub their eyes.

How can I take care of my child?

  • Antibiotic eye ointment

    Some styes need to be treated with an antibiotic eye ointment. These ointments do not cure styes, but they may keep them from spreading and recurring. Your child's eye ointment is ___________________________. Apply it to the stye ______ times per day for __________ days.

  • Cleansing and warm compresses

    Wash the eyelids once daily with a baby shampoo. Apply a warm washcloth to the eye for 10 minutes 4 times a day to help the stye come to a head. Continue to cleanse the eye several times a day even after the stye drains.

  • Opening the pimple

    When the stye does display a center of pus, continue using warm compresses. Most styes will open and drain spontaneously in a few days after they come to a head.

  • Prevention

    Ask your child not to touch his eyes because rubbing can cause spread of the infection.

When should I call my child's health care provider?


  • The eyelid becomes very red and causes a fever.

Call during office hours if:

  • The stye is not draining or improved by 5 days.
  • The stye is not completely healed by 10 days.
  • Styes recur.
  • You have other concerns or questions.
Written by B.D. Schmitt, M.D., author of "Your Child's Health," Bantam Books.
Published by McKesson Provider Technologies.
Last modified: 2006-02-24
Last reviewed: 2006-02-23
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 2006 McKesson Corporation and/or one of its subsidiaries. All Rights Reserved.
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