A stye (or hordeolum) is a common eyelid disorder that affects both kids and adults. Usually quite painful, a stye is an infection that happens in one of the eyelid glands.
As a parent, seeing a sore, red bump on your child’s eyelid can be upsetting. But styes respond well to medical treatment — and some clear up on their own.
At ABC Children's Eye Specialists, we help kids in Phoenix and Mesa, Arizona, find relief for painful styes, while also preventing infections from getting worse. Take a moment as our team reviews what you should do if your child develops one of these common eyelid infections.
Quick facts about styes
A stye is an infection that’s usually associated with bacteria normally found on your skin. Some styes include bacteria transferred to the eyelid when your child rubs their eye.
These bacteria get trapped in a gland that’s clogged with dead skin or excess oil. Inside the gland, the warm environment provides the perfect place for bacteria to grow and multiply, eventually leading to an infection.
Styes are red, raised, sore, and filled with pus and debris. Most styes form on the bottom eyelid, usually right along the lid margin at the base of an eyelash. Some styes form just inside the lid on the underside, making them harder to spot.
In addition to pain and redness, styes can cause other symptoms, like:
- Eyelid crusting
- Excess tearing
- Eye pain
- Light sensitivity
- Scratching or itching sensations
- Fever, especially if the infection spreads
Styes are not contagious, and most go away with a little TLC from mom and dad. There is a chance, though, that a stye will cause a far more serious infection that can spread to the eye or other parts of the body.
What to do if your child has a stye
Most styes need to drain so they can heal. You can encourage this drainage by applying warm compresses to your child’s eyelid several times each day. Compresses help “open up” the clogged gland to release pus and debris, while also reducing discomfort.
You can also clean the lid margin very gently with diluted baby shampoo on a cotton swab. Be sure your child never squeezes the stye, since this could cause the infection to spread.
If the stye doesn’t go away after a couple of days, if it gets bigger, or if the area around it becomes red or swollen, call the office immediately to schedule an appointment. These could be signs that the infection is getting worse or starting to spread, which means prompt medical care is essential.
After evaluating your stye, we prescribe topical antibiotic ointments, sometimes along with oral antibiotics, especially if the infection is severe or spreading. Very stubborn styes may need to be drained in a simple in-office procedure.
After drainage, your child needs to use an antibiotic ointment to prevent infection while the area heals.
Never ignore an eye problem
Even though many styes go away over time, it’s still important to have a stye evaluated by our team. Some styes do require antibiotics or other treatments to promote healing and prevent more serious infections.
Plus, other problems cause similar symptoms, which means your child’s red eyelid bump might not be a stye at all. Delaying care could allow another problem to become much worse. Having an evaluation ensures your child receives the most appropriate care no matter what.
If your child has a red, sore lump on their eyelid or any other eyelid symptoms, we can help. Call our offices to book an appointment with the team at ABC Children’s Eye Specialists today.