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What Causes Styes, and What Can You Do About Them?

What Causes Styes, and What Can You Do About Them?

A stye, sometimes spelled as “sty,” is a red, painful bump that forms on top of or just inside your eyelid, near your eyelash. The clinical term for a stye is hordeolum. While not a serious health condition, a stye can be painful, uncomfortable, and unsightly. 

Fortunately, most styes resolve on their own with some home care. In some cases, however, a stye does not go away on its own, so you need an eye doctor to help get rid of it. 

The pediatric eye specialists at ABC Children’s Eye Specialists PC, with offices in Phoenix and Mesa, Arizona, offer expert advice on how to treat a stye at home and prevent styes from developing, and guidance on when your child needs to see an eye doctor to treat the stye.

What causes styes?

A stye is an infection. It develops when your oil glands get clogged with bacteria. Oil glands are vital to healthy eyes because they keep your eyes lubricated and prevent tears from evaporating too quickly.

There are many ways bacteria can travel to the oil glands in your eyelid. A common way is by rubbing your eyes with dirty, unwashed hands. Also, if you wear contacts, you can get bacteria or other debris in your eyes if you don’t follow proper cleansing protocols. 

Another common way for older kids is through makeup that’s not thoroughly washed off at night. And lastly, sweat dripping in your eyes can lead to a stye.

Once the oil gland gets clogged, a red, pus-filled bump can form near your eyelash. It’s usually tender and can be painful.  

How to treat a stye

The good news is that most styes gradually drain on their own. Although it looks like a pimple, you should never squeeze it to drain it. (Similarly, you shouldn’t be squeezing your pimples, either!)

Applying a warm compress to your eyes several times a day can make your eyes feel better. Also, warm water can help unclog your infected gland. However, if your stye doesn’t go away after a few days of warm water compresses, you may need to visit your eye doctor. 

Your doctor can prescribe antibiotic cream to help stop the infection from spreading, or oral antibiotics for more severe conditions. If antibiotics don’t work either, your doctor may recommend surgery to help manually drain the stye. 

Does your child have a painful stye? Call ABC Children’s Eye Specialists, PC for information on how to care for your child or to make an appointment. You can also request an appointment online through this website. 

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