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Does a Stye Need the Attention of an Eye Doctor?

Does a Stye Need the Attention of an Eye Doctor?

A stye is a painful red bump that forms on your child’s eyelid, right near the base of an eyelash. While styes look serious, rest assured that they’re benign — and as long as they get prompt treatment, they typically don’t cause serious problems.

When a child develops a stye, the question most parents have is, “Does my child need to see the eye doctor?” Again, there’s good news: Most styes can be treated at home — with some caveats.

At ABC Children’s Eye Specialists, our team is skilled in diagnosing and treating styes, providing quick pain relief and preventing complications that can occur. If your child develops a stye, here’s what you can do to help them feel better and protect the health of their eyes.

Why styes form

A stye is an infection that forms in tiny glands near the base of an eyelash. These glands produce an oil that plays an important role in tear formation.

Like pimples, styes happen when bacteria colonize the gland, sometimes feeding on deposits of oil and dead skin cells trapped inside the gland. As bacteria multiply, the stye fills with pus, swelling and turning red and inflamed.

Red or pinkish in appearance, styes are often painful and tender when touched. Some styes cause the lid to swell, and there may be yellowish drainage or crusting along the lash line as the stye drains.

Anyone can develop a stye, but they tend to be more common among children with a history of styes, as well as kids who have diabetes or skin conditions like eczema. Styes are not contagious.

Treating styes

Although styes can be quite painful, most heal on their own with a little extra care. The goal of treatment is to help the stye drain. You should never squeeze a stye; instead, apply warm compresses on a regular basis to help unclog the stye so it drains on its own.

Cleaning the lid margin may also help. Use a cotton swab dipped in diluted baby shampoo or eyewash solution to clean the lid’s edge very gently.

Because styes are caused by bacteria, make sure your child washes their hands often and avoids touching or rubbing their eye so they don’t transfer the bacteria elsewhere. Your child shouldn’t use eye makeup until the area heals, and if they wear contacts, they should switch to glasses until the stye is gone.

When to see the doctor

Most styes clear up within a couple of weeks, as long as the area is kept clean. If the stye hasn’t gone away by then or if you notice it’s getting worse, it’s time to schedule a visit.

Infections that don’t heal properly can cause more serious infections that could affect your child’s eye or vision or spread to other areas. 

Our team evaluates your child’s stye and prescribes appropriate treatment. That could include eye drops, antibiotic ointments, or oral antibiotics to treat more advanced infections.

Dedicated to your child’s eye health needs

With offices in Phoenix and Mesa, Arizona, ABC Children’s Eye Specialists is committed to providing care tailored to your child’s unique needs. If your child has a stubborn stye, don’t delay treatment. Book an appointment online or over the phone with our team today.

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