A stye, also known as a sty (without the “e”) is an eye condition more common in children than adults. It’s often painful and unsightly, but not usually serious. A stye is a small red bump that forms at the base of your eyelashes, generally on the lower lid, or under your eyelid.
A similar eye condition, called a chalazion, is a bump, usually not painful, slightly more significant than a stye. Both conditions can usually be treated at home but may require treatment by a specialist if they don’t resolve within a few days.
How to prevent styes
Styes form because of sterile inflammation in the oil-producing glands in the eyelid. They look like a bug bite or pimple and cause swelling, eyelid pain, and tearing. The good news is that good hygiene practices can help prevent styes and other infections. Some practices include:
- Wash your hands before touching your eyes
- Take proper care of your contact lenses
- Remove all eye makeup before you go to bed
- Don’t share eye makeup or use old eye makeup
- If you have blepharitis, an inflammation of the eyelid, follow your eye doctor’s care instructions
How to treat styes
Fortunately, most styes and chalazions go away within a few weeks. In order to heal, the stye or chalazion needs to break up and drain. Usually, this happens on its own. To make your child feel more comfortable, or to help soften the stye so that it starts draining, a warm compress placed on your child’s eyes for a few minutes several times a day can help.
If the stye doesn’t start to heal in a few days or gets worse, other treatment options may include:
Antibiotic cream does not help the stye drain, but it does help prevent the infection. If the infection is more severe or widespread, your doctor may prescribe oral antibiotics.
A procedure to drain the stye
If the stye is not draining on its own and is causing problems, pain, and discomfort for your child, the providers at ABC Children’s Eye Specialists can perform a procedure to help the stye drain. Your child receives anesthesia so they sleep throughout the procedure.
After the procedure, you’ll be given eye ointment to apply to the eye to help it heal and prevent infection.
If your child has a stye or chalazion that is not going away on its own, call ABC Children’s Eye Specialists, PC, with offices in Phoenix and Mesa, Arizona, for an appointment with a pediatric ophthalmologist. You can also conveniently make an appointment online through this website.