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Styes in Children

What is a stye in children?

A stye is a sore red bump on the edge of your child's eyelid.

What causes a stye in a child?

A stye is caused by an infection in the oil-producing (sebaceous) or sweat glands in the eyelid. The infection is often caused by bacteria called Staphylococcus aureus.

Which children are at risk for a stye?

Styes are one of the most common eye problems in children. The following things may increase your child’s risk:

  • A history of styes

  • Skin conditions called seborrheic dermatitis or rosacea

  • Diabetes

What are the symptoms of a stye in a child?

Symptoms can happen a bit differently in each child. They can include:

  • Swelling of the eyelid

  • Redness at the edge of the eyelid

  • Pain over the affected area

  • Soreness

  • Drainage of yellow fluid

The symptoms of a stye may look like symptoms of other conditions. Have your child see their healthcare provider for a diagnosis.

How is a stye diagnosed in a child?

Your child’s healthcare provider will ask you about your child’s health history. They will also give your child an exam.

How is a stye treated in a child?

Treatment will depend on your child’s symptoms, age, and general health. It will also depend on how severe the condition is.

Your child’s treatment may include the following:

  • Put warm, wet compresses on your child's eye. You may need to do this a few times a day for 10 to 15 minutes at a time.

  • Tell your child not to squeeze or rub the stye.

  • Have your child wash their hands often.

  • Have your child wash their face each day. Your child should also wash the eyelid.

  • Tell your child not to wear makeup until the eye heals.  

  • Have your child leave contact lenses out of the eyes until after the infection has healed.

  • Put antibiotic ointment on the eyelid. This won’t make the stye go away faster. But it will keep the infection from spreading to other parts of the eye.

What are possible complications of a stye in a child?

Sometimes a serious infection can form with a stye. This is called cellulitis. If this happens, your child will need to take antibiotics by mouth. Follow your child’s provider's instructions for taking antibiotics.

Key points about a stye in children

  • A stye is inflammation or infection on the edge of your child's eyelid.

  • Styes happen more often in children than in adults.

  • Treatment may include putting warm, wet compresses on your child's eye. You may need to do this several times a day for 10 to15 minutes at a time.

  • Sometimes a serious infection can form with a stye. This is called cellulitis. If this happens, your child will need to take antibiotics by mouth.

Next steps

Tips to help you get the most from a visit to your child’s healthcare provider:

  • Know the reason for the visit and what you want to happen.

  • Before your visit, write down questions you want answered.

  • At the visit, write down the name of a new diagnosis, and any new medicines, treatments, or tests. Also write down any new instructions your provider gives you for your child.

  • Know why a new medicine or treatment is prescribed and how it will help your child. Also know what the side effects are.

  • Ask if your child’s condition can be treated in other ways.

  • Know why a test or procedure is advised and what the results could mean.

  • Know what to expect if your child does not take the medicine or have the test or procedure.

  • If your child has a follow-up appointment, write down the date, time, and purpose for that visit.

  • Know how you can contact your child’s provider after office hours. This is important if your child becomes ill and you have questions or need advice.

Online Medical Reviewer: Chris Haupert MD
Online Medical Reviewer: Tara Novick BSN MSN
Online Medical Reviewer: Tennille Dozier RN BSN RDMS
Date Last Reviewed: 4/1/2022
© 2000-2022 The StayWell Company, LLC. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.
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