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Does this describe your child's symptoms?


  • 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.

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


When to Call Your Doctor

call now

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 within 24 hours

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 within 24 hours

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

home care

Parent Care at Home If

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



  1. 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.

  2. 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)

  3. 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)

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

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