Styes are a common eye infection usually seen at the eyelash base and resemble a pimple. Also known as a hordeolum, they may grow inside or outside the eyelid. Stye in children are not contagious and usually fade away on their own, or you can follow some home care tips to treat them. However, medical intervention is rarely needed. So, read this post to know more about the causes, symptoms, necessary measures, and home remedies of stye infection in children. We have also discussed ways to prevent styes.
What Can Cause Stye In Children?
Your child could get a stye due to a bacterial infection. Staphylococcal bacteria usually cause this infection; these bacteria are harmlessly found on the skin but would cause infection only near the areas where the skin is damaged.
What Does A Stye Look Like?
A stye is a reddish bump that resembles a pimple on the eyelid. It is at the junction of the eyelash with the eyelid. That bump would be filled with pus and look inflamed. The pus gets collected within the stye, which appears as a yellowish spot on the center of the bump.
Types Of styes
Styes are of two types, internal and external (2)
1. Internal styes
These styes occur inside the eye, near the eyelid margin, because of clogged tarsal glands (which are present along the rims of the eyelids), that develop due to the bacterial infection. These are more painful and tend to last longer.
2. External styes
When the bacteria infect the glands present near the eyelashes (glands of Zeis or Moll), external styes occur.
What Are The Early Symptoms Of Styes?
Some of the first signs of stye include (3) :
- Swelling or bump on the eyelid
- Pain and redness around the bump
- The bump on the eyelid would be tender to touch
- Watering of the eye
- Sensitivity to light
- Foreign body sensation inside the eye
As the infection progresses, pus starts to accumulate, and the bump would appear yellow and red, filled with pus (1). As styes are not contagious, you could consider sending your child to school as long as they are not experiencing severe symptoms. However, the child should refrain from continuously rubbing the eye.
How To Take Care Of Stye At Home?
These home care tips do not treat bacterial infections but might reduce the healing time and aid in relieving the symptoms.
- Apply warm or hot compress on the bump for 15 minutes, three to four times a day. This will help in softening the bump and draining of the pus from the stye.
- Clean the eyelids by scrubbing them with lid scrubs or baby shampoo. This will promote lid hygiene and prevent the spread of bacterial infection.
- Instruct the child not to rub or squeeze the stye. Rubbing the eye should be completely discouraged.
- Ask your child to wash their face and eyes thoroughly.
- Teenagers should be instructed not to wear eye makeup until the eye is healed completely.
- If the stye does not subside with these home care tips, then your doctor might prescribe an antibiotic ointment, which may not treat the infection, but prevent it from spreading(2).
What Are Some Home Remedies For Stye In Children?
Along with the home care measures, you can also consider using a few home remedies to speed up the recovery process. Considering that there isn’t sufficient scientific evidence to back these remedies, there is no guarantee that these remedies might provide relief from the stye.
This spice is known for its antimicrobial properties, and could help in preventing the spread of infection (4).
How to: For external styes, mix a little water in turmeric powder to make a paste and apply that on the stye. Leave it for 15 minutes and rinse it. Repeat this until the bump starts to fade away.
Alternatively, you can also dip a washcloth in warm turmeric water and apply it on the eye.
Anecdotal evidence suggests that placing tea bags in the stye can relieve pain and swelling.
How to: Boil the tea bags and let them cool. Place the cooled tea bags on your child’s eyes and hold them in position for ten minutes. Repeat this five times a day.
3. Coconut oil
This is said to have antimicrobial properties and might help in preventing the spread of the bacteria (4).
How to: For external styes, take a few drops of coconut oil and apply it on the stye, be careful not to use in excess as it might get into the eye and cause irritation.
How Is Stye Diagnosed?
Styes usually drain out and fade away in a few days. If they do not or if you see additional symptoms, such as fever or loss of appetite, then you need to take your child to the doctor.
Your child’s doctor would conduct a physical examination of the eye and enquire about your child’s medical history before suggesting a course of treatment.
How To Treat Styes In Children?
Most styes get resolved in a week. So, before going for medical treatment, you could try a few home care tips to reduce the infection and relieve the symptoms.
If the stye does not subside with home care, then your doctor might prescribe topical antibiotics. Ophthalmic antibiotic ointments are necessary in most cases. Systemic antibiotics, surgical, and drainage may be prescribed in case of severe and persistent cases(2).
Who Are At A Higher Risk Of Developing Styes?
Anyone can develop styes, although children with the following conditions could be at a higher risk of developing them.
- Severe cases of seborrheic dermatitis (a condition that causes scaly patches on the scalp)
- Compromised immunity system
- High serum lipids (6)
These conditions might cause recurring styes in children. Also, poor hygiene habits can cause styes to recur.
Can You Prevent Styes In Children?
Since stye is caused due to bacterial infection, you could take a few steps to minimize the risk of infection.
- Instruct the child not to rub the eyes too often as this might cause the bacteria to get into the eye.
- Make sure your children touch their eyes after washing their hands.
- Let them wear sunglasses to protect the eye from dust.
- Teach your children good hygiene habits such as washing the face and hands after playing outside.
- If your teenager uses eye makeup, then make sure you store the makeup in a clean place and replace the products once every six months, as bacteria might get accumulated in them.
- Instruct your children not to share their eyeliners and mascaras with other children as this can cause bacterial transmission.
What Are The Risks And Complications Of Stye In Children?
- Styes are harmless eye infections and tend to fade on their own in a week or two. In rare cases, untreated styes could turn into chalazion, which is a chronic condition that could press the eye and reduce the opening of the eyelids. This is not as painful as a stye but might take more time to fade away or may require antibiotics(2).
- If the bacterial infection spreads to the tissue around the eye, it can result in periorbital cellulitis; this condition causes swelling and redness around the eyes. This could be treated with antibiotics (7).
Frequently Asked Questions
1. Are styes contagious?
Styes are generally not contagious. However, some bacteria can be spread from the stye to another person. So, you should wash your hands after touching stye and wash pillowcases to prevent the spread (7).
2. Should I take my child to the doctor for a stye?
You may take your child to the doctor if the stye doesn’t go away within a few days of home care measures or OTC management. Fever, headache, fatigue, or any other symptoms with stye indicate seeking medical care (8).
3. How long does a stye usually last?
Stye usually goes away within a week or two. Although it can be painful until it resolves, it is rarely a symptom of serious medical conditions (9)
4. Does a stye get bigger before it goes away?
In some children, a stye can become swollen and larger after a few days. This means the stye is pus-filled and often requires drainage of pus. Most styes disappear after draining the pus or the fluid inside (10).
Teaching children about the importance of good hygiene habits and restraining them from rubbing their eyes affected by the stye are common preventative measures to aid in the healing process. Although styes are a common occurrence in children, they can be treated easily with the help of certain home remedies, such as using turmeric or coconut oil. However, it is advised to consult your doctor about the safety and effectiveness of such remedies before following them. Also, ensure that the infection does not spread to the surrounding tissues of the eye as it might increase the risk of periorbital cellulitis.
- Jannathulferdioz, Brundha; Awareness of Stye; International Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences Review and Research
- Kristina Lindsley, Jason J Nichols, and Kay Dickersin; Interventions for acute internal hordeolum; NCBI
- What are styes and chalazia; American Academy of Ophthalmology
- Abbas Abel Anzaku; Antimicrobial Activity of Coconut Oil and its Derivative (Lauric Acid) on Some Selected Clinical Isolates; Research Gate
- Davis Willmann; Bhupendra C. Patel; Scott W. Melanson; Stye; NCBI
- Crystal Bae; Daniele Bourget; Periorbital Cellulitis; NCBI
- Stye; Cleveland Clinic
- Stye; RaisingChildren.
- Stye; National Health Service
- Styes; BetterHealth Channel
Dr. Ritika Shah
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Dr. Mubina Agboatwalla(MBBS, DCH, MCPS)
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