A stye is an infection of the eyelash follicle. Styes are usually caused by the bacteria Staphylococcus aureus.
Styes are a common eye problem in children.
Symptoms of a stye
A stye looks like a small lump at the base of an eyelash, usually on the lower lid. The lump might look red on lighter skin or grey, brown or purple on darker skin. The lump usually has a small yellow or white spot at the centre.
A stye 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.
Always seek medical advice if your child’s eyesight is affected.
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 2 minutes at a time. Try to repeat the warm compresses at least 3 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 their hands.