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Treating Pediatric Styes

Posted on May 21, 2018

Jasmine Reese, M.D.

Styes are common in pediatrics and can be worrisome to parents. Knowing what they are and what to do about them can help ease parents’ concerns especially because there are simple ways to treat them at home. Jasmine Reese, M.D., from Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital, shares some helpful tips for parents.

What is a stye?

A stye, or hordeolum, is an infected oil or sweat gland on the outside rim of the eyelid that causes a painful red bump. It can cause eye irritation, redness, swelling and can be bothersome. They are not contagious but once you have a stye you are more prone to getting one again. These can be confused with a different type of inflammatory lesion called a chalazion. Chalazia are non-tender, rubbery, non-infectious, and usually occur on the pink soft tissue side of the eyelid rim. Chalazia usually are slow to develop, don’t cause pain and appear bigger in size compared to a stye. Kids with styes might complain of their eye feeling heavy or irritated, they might have more tear formation, and they may complain of eyelid pain.

How do you treat styes?

Most styes go away on their own in one to two weeks and do not need antibiotics. Applying warm compresses to the area four times per day for about 15 minutes can help the healing process. You should not squeeze or “pop” the stye. Be sure to practice good eye hygiene such as washing hands before touching your eyes and face. Adolescents should avoid eye make-up and contact lenses until the eyelid is healed.

When should you call your doctor or pediatrician?

Both styes and chalazia are benign inflammatory lesions of the eyelid that should go away with simple treatment that can be done at home. If you have applied warm compresses and there is no relief of symptoms or if eye symptoms are worsening, you should call the doctor. Vision changes should always prompt immediate evaluation.

What are some ways you can prevent eye styes from developing?

  1. Clean hands before rubbing or touching eyes
  2. Change out contact lenses as prescribed
  3. Replace eye makeup regularly and don’t share eye makeup
  4. Wear protective eye gear if you are in a dusty environment

This information was shared on WTVT-TV’s Doc on Call segment, which is aimed at helping parents learn more about children’s health issues. The segment airs each Monday morning on Good Day Tampa Bay.

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