Tips for Recognizing a Stye (and What to Do About It)

When your child has a lump or red bump on their eyelid, it can be alarming, but before you panic, know that it could be a stye. Styes form in response to a bacterial infection and can occur on the upper or lower eyelid. They’re painful and sometimes unsightly, accompanied by swelling and inflammation, but they’re rarely serious enough to require medical intervention. 

Here’s what Dr. Umesh Kodu and our team at Penguin Pediatrics want you to know about styes and how to treat them. 

How do I know my child has a stye?

A stye looks a lot like a pimple that’s located on the eyelid. The immediate area may be mildly swollen and red. Your child may complain about pain and their eyes may be a little more watery than usual. 

Kids commonly develop styes in response to a Staphylococcus bacteria that’s usually found in the nose. If a child has the bacteria, rubs their nose, and then rubs their eye, a stye can form.

Kids may also come into contact with the bacteria through a shared infected towel or pillowcase.

If it’s a stye, how do I care for it?

Your child may complain of pain, and the bump can look a little scary, but it usually resolves on its own after just a few days. To help speed up the process and give your child some relief, hold a warm (not hot) washcloth to their eyelid for 5-10 minutes at a time, several times a day. Gently massage the eyelid area for a few minutes after applying the compress to encourage natural drainage. 

For the most part, though, leave the stye alone. Discourage your child from rubbing it and potentially contaminating the area with germs. Resist the urge to “pop” the stye, as this only encourages the infection to spread. If your child does touch their eye, make sure they wash their hands thoroughly afterwards to avoid spreading bacteria. 

If you have an older child with a stye, discourage them from wearing makeup and contact lenses until it’s healed. 

Does my child need to see the pediatrician for a stye?

In most cases, your child’s stye will resolve on its own. Dr. Kodu and his team can help you if your child has a serious stye that’s interfering with their vision, migrates to other areas of the face, or hasn’t improved within 48 hours. Call to schedule a sick visit, if that’s the case. 

If the stye is persistent or recurrent, your child may be prescribed antibiotic eye drops or a topical antibiotic cream to apply to the area affected by the stye. If the infection has spread beyond the eyelid, oral antibiotics may be necessary. 

In very rare cases, your child may be referred to a Pediatric Opthomologist and may need to lance the stye and drain the pus to alleviate the uncomfortable pressure. 

Our team at Penguin Pediatrics is here to answer any questions if you think your child has a stye. Feel free to contact the office or use the online tool to make an appointment to come in to one of the offices in Ashburn and Stone Ridge, Virginia.

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