Should Your Child See a Doctor?
- A sty is a red lump or pimple on the edge of an eyelid
- 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
- 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.
When to Call Your Doctor
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 a.m. and 4 p.m.) 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
Home Care Advice for a Sty
- 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.
- 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.
- Carter SR. Eyelid disorders: Diagnosis and management. Am Fam Physician. 1998;57:2695-2702.
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.
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.