A stye, also known as a hordeolum, is an inflammation of the eyelid margin. This condition is seen more often in children than in adults. A stye is caused by an infection in the sebaceous (oil producing) or sweat glands in the eyelid. The infection is usually caused by bacteria called Staphylococcus aureus.

Symptoms

The following are the most common symptoms of a stye. However, each child may experience symptoms differently. Symptoms may include:

  • Swelling of the eyelid
  • Redness at the edge of the eyelid
  • Pain over the affected area (localized pain)
  • Tenderness
  • Drainage of yellow fluid (pus)

A stye is sometimes confused with a chalazion, a painless, persistent granuloma bump or swelling of the upper or lower eyelid. A chalazion is caused by a blockage of one of the glands in the eyelid. The treatment for a stye and a chalazion is similar.

A stye is usually diagnosed based on a complete medical history and physical examination of your child. Additional tests are not usually required to confirm the diagnosis.

Treatment

Treatment may include:

  • Applying warm, wet compresses on the child's eye for about a period of approximately 15 minutes, several times throughout the day
  • Instructing your child not to squeeze or rub the stye
  • Having your child wash their hands frequently
  • Antibiotic ointments for the eye (this does not make the stye go away faster, but it can help to stop the spread of the infection to other parts of the eye)
  • Having your child wash their face daily, including the eye
  • Refraining from wearing make-up until the infection heals

Make an Appointment

If you’d like to request an appointment with one of our specialists from the Division of Ophthalmology, call 1.800.543.7362 (1.800.KIDS DOC®). You can also request an appointment online.

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