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Brief Version

What is a stye?

A stye is an 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?

  • Use antibiotic eye ointment.

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

  • Put a warm cloth on the eye.

    Apply a warm washcloth to the eye for 10 minutes four times a day to help the stye come to a head (shows pus in the center). Continue to cleanse the eye with warm water even after the stye drains.

  • Open the pimple.

    When the stye has a center of pus, continue using warm washcloths. Most styes will open and drain by themselves a few days after they come to a head.

How can my child prevent the stye from spreading?

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

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 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: 2006-09-15
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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