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Definition

  • A sty is a red lump or pimple on the edge of an eyelid

Symptoms

  • A tender, red lump on the eyelid at the base of an eyelash 
  • A small pimple on the eyelid at the base of an eyelash 
  • A sty is tender to touch
  • A sty causes mild swelling of the eyelid
  • A sty can cause a watery eye

Causes

  • An infection of the hair follicle of an eyelash. The most common cause is the Staph bacteria
  • Risk factors: Rubbing the eyes (especially after picking the nose - the most frequent home of Staph). Also, more common with eye makeup.

Return To School

  • Children with a sty usually do not need to miss any school or child care.

Disclaimer: This information is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. It is provided for educational purposes only. You assume full responsibility for how you choose to use this information. For more information, click here.

Author and Senior Reviewer: Barton D. Schmitt, M.D. Clinical content review provided by Senior Reviewer and Healthpoint Medical Network.
Last Review Date: 7/5/2011
Last Revised: 8/1/2011 3:42:41 PM
Content Set: Pediatric HouseCalls Symptom Checker
Version Year: 2012
Copyright 1994-2012 Barton D. Schmitt, M.D

When To Call

Call Your Doctor Now (night or day) If

  • You think your child looks or acts very sick 
  • Eyelid is very red or very swollen 
  • You think your child needs to be seen urgently

Call Your Doctor Within 24 Hours (between 9 am and 4 pm) If

  • You think your child needs to be seen, but not urgently 
  • Sty becomes larger than 1/4 inch (6 mm)

Call Your Doctor During Weekday Office Hours If

  • You have other questions or concerns 
  • 2 or more styes are present 
  • Styes have occurred 3 or more times 
  • Sty has come to a head (pimple visible), but has not drained after 3 days 
  • Sty present for more than 10 days

Parent Care at Home If

  • One sty and you don't think your child needs to be seen

Disclaimer: This information is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. It is provided for educational purposes only. You assume full responsibility for how you choose to use this information. For more information, click here.

Author and Senior Reviewer: Barton D. Schmitt, M.D. Clinical content review provided by Senior Reviewer and Healthpoint Medical Network.
Last Review Date: 7/5/2011
Last Revised: 8/1/2011 3:42:41 PM
Content Set: Pediatric HouseCalls Symptom Checker
Version Year: 2012
Copyright 1994-2012 Barton D. Schmitt, M.D

Care Advice

Home Care Advice For A Sty 

Reassurance:

  • A sty is a minor infection of an eyelash.
  • A sty usually comes to a head and forms a pimple in 3 to 5 days.
  • In a few more days, it usually drains and heals. 
  • Most styes can be treated at home.

Local Heat: 

  • Apply a warm, wet washcloth to the eye for 10 minutes 4 times a day to help the sty come to a head. 
  • Continue the warm wet compresses several times a day even after the sty begins to drain. (Reason: remove the discharge)
  • Caution: Do not rub the eye (Reason: can cause more styes)

Open the Pimple: 

  • Age limit: Your child is over 5 years old and cooperative 
  • When the center of the sty becomes yellow, you can open it by pulling out the eyelash that goes through the pimple. Use a tweezers. This will initiate drainage and healing. 
  • Another option is to wait for spontaneous drainage (usually another 1-2 days). 
  • Caution: Do not squeeze the red lump. (Reason: can cause an eyelid infection)

Antibiotic Eye Medicine: 

  • Most single styes respond to the treatment with local heat and don't need an antibiotic. 
  • Indications for antibiotic: multiple styes, recurrent styes or children with an eye rubbing habit.

Call Your Doctor If:

  • Eyelid becomes red or swollen
  • The sty comes to a head, but has not drained by 3 days
  • More styes occur
  • Sty is not resolved by 10 days

And remember, contact your doctor if your child develops any of the "Call Your Doctor" symptoms.

Disclaimer: This information is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. It is provided for educational purposes only. You assume full responsibility for how you choose to use this information. For more information, click here.

Author and Senior Reviewer: Barton D. Schmitt, M.D. Clinical content review provided by Senior Reviewer and Healthpoint Medical Network.
Last Review Date: 7/5/2011
Last Revised: 8/1/2011 3:42:41 PM
Content Set: Pediatric HouseCalls Symptom Checker
Version Year: 2012
Copyright 1994-2012 Barton D. Schmitt, M.D

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