About styes

A stye is an infection of the eyelash follicle. Styes are usually caused by the bacteria Staphylococcus aureus.

Styes are a common eye complaint in children.

Symptoms of a stye

A stye looks like a small, red lump at the base of your child’s eyelash, usually on the lower lid.

It can cause swelling of the surrounding eyelid and be quite painful. The stye might also irritate the eye and make it water.

Most styes get better within a few days.

Styes don’t generally cause any permanent damage to the eye or eyelid.

Does your child need to see a doctor about a stye?

Take your child to the GP if the stye doesn’t go away within a few days of starting the stye treatment below.

You should also see the doctor if your child has a stye plus other general symptoms including fever, headache and loss of appetite, or if your child is feeling generally unwell.

Always seek medical advice if your child’s eyesight is affected.

Stye treatment

To help the pus come out of the stye, you can try warm compresses.

To make a warm compress, get a clean handtowel soaked in warm water and apply to the eyelid for two minutes at a time. Try to repeat the warm compresses at least three times a day. Gentle massage during the warm compress can help drain the stye – but don’t try to squeeze the stye.

Your GP might decide to remove the lash with the infection. This might help the pus come out and speed up the healing process.

Antibiotic ointments are rarely used to treat styes, unless it’s a problem that keeps coming back. Oral antibiotics might help sometimes.

Make sure that your child (and everyone else in the family) washes hands frequently to avoid spreading the infection. Use a separate towel for your child to dry his hands.