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Stye in Children – Types, Signs, Causes, and Treatment

Does your child seem bothered by something around their eye? Perhaps you have noticed a small red swelling or a bump around the top or lower eyelid. If you have, there is no need to panic. This is most likely a stye, an irritation on the eyelid that is more common in children than adults. Styes are not often serious, and you may be able to treat them with a few simple home remedies, but there are times when the wiser course of action is to have it looked at by a doctor. 

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Why do styes happen? Can they be treated at home? When is it best to visit the doctor? We have the answers to these questions and so much more.

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What Is a Stye?

A sty or stye is an eye infection that is commonly found in children. It resembles a pimple and is located on either the inside or the outside of the eyelid. Though a stye, also known as Hordeolum, may not be a serious medical condition, it can somewhat cause discomfort in children.

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Since a stye can sometimes cause redness in the eye, some may mistake it for conjunctivitis, more commonly known as “Pink Eye.” This may make you wonder if a stye in a child’s eye is contagious; however, you can rest assured that it is not. 

What Are the Types of Styes?

There are two ways that a stye can infect your child, and these two types are discussed below:

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1. External Styes

Some glands are present near the eyelashes called Moll or Zeis. When these become infected, a stye is developed along the outer base of the lash line. 

2. Internal Styes

Internal styes develop on the eye’s inner side, close to the margin of the eyelid. There are glands known as tarsal glands that are located along the rims of the eyelids. When these tarsal glands become clogged with a bacterial infection, an internal stye is formed. These are far more painful than external styes, and they take a longer time to heal.

Causes of Styes in Children

The eyelids have oil-producing glands called sebaceous glands and sweat-producing glands that help keep the eyes lubricated. When a bacteria called staphylococcus aureus causes an infection to take place in one of these glands, it causes a blockage, leading to the formation of a stye. Some other ways that a stye can form are when the glands get clogged with dead skin cells and old oils and by rubbing or touching the eyes without washing hands first. 

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How Does a Stye Look Like?

A stye appears to be a reddish bump with a yellowish dot in the center that resembles a pimple. Styes are located on the eyelid and are filled with pus, causing them to look rather inflamed and painful. In some cases, the eye also becomes red due to irritation.

Which Children Are at a Higher Risk of Developing a Stye?

All children run the risk of developing styes, but some conditions could increase the risk factor. Those with diabetes, severe seborrheic dermatitis, high serum lipids, and a weak immune system are more likely to develop styes.

Symptoms of Styes in a Child

Some early symptoms of stye let you know your child is developing it. Be prepared to take action when you notice the following symptoms:

  • A bump or swelling located on the eyelid
  • Redness around the swollen area
  • Complaints of pain in the area
  • Tenderness in the bump
  • Sensitivity towards light
  • The feeling as if there is something in the eye
  • Watery eyes
  • Discharge from the eyes
  • A crust forming on the eyelid
  • Itchiness in the eyelid and eye

Diagnosis of Styes

A stye can be diagnosed through a simple physical examination. You may need to answer some questions about your child’s medical history and symptoms. This is to help your doctor to make a more informed diagnosis. In some cases, your child may be required to do some tests to rule out any other possible conditions with similar symptoms.

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Treatment of Styes in Children

Most styes drain out and eventually fade away on their own within a few days. A few home remedies should be all that you need to help in hurrying along the healing process. They will also be able to help your child find relief from the uncomfortable and sometimes painful symptoms.

If there is no improvement in the stye condition, you may be prescribed some topical antibiotics. For most conditions, ophthalmic antibiotic ointments are often needed. For those cases that are very severe, your doctor may need to drain the stye surgically and will prescribe systematic antibiotics. 

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How to Prevent Styes in Children?

Since styes are caused by bacteria that enter the eyes, there are a few things that you can have your child do to prevent them from developing a stye.

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  1. Avoid Touching the Eyes: Teach your children to avoid rubbing or touching their eyes as much as possible. If they need to, make sure that they get into the habit of washing their hands well before they do.
  2. Proper Make-up Ethics: If your child is allowed to wear make-up, ensure that the make-up is not expired and is removed well before bedtime.
  3. Contact Lens Care: If your child wears contact lenses, make sure they take good care of their lenses by keeping them clean and always washing their hands before touching the lenses or their eyes.
  4. Good Hygiene Habits: Get your child into the habit of washing their faces and rinsing their eyes before bed.

How to Care for Stye at Home?

Styes are generally not something to worry about, but every parent often worries about getting rid of a stye in the child’s eye. Here are some easy tips that you can follow to help it heal faster:

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  1. Warm Compress: Wet a small, soft towel with warm water. Squeeze it out, and then apply the warm towel to your child’s stye for at least five minutes. Use a different towel each time you need to soak it in the water again.
  2. Reminders About Touching: Your child may be tempted to rub or touch the stye due to the irritation. You will need to gently remind your child now and then to avoid touching it as much as possible.
  3. Do Not Squeeze: Resist the temptation to squeeze the stye. Allow it to drain on its own. When it does, clean the area with a washcloth soaked in warm water.
  4. Eye Drops: Your child may be prescribed antibiotic eye ointment or eye drops by the doctor. So, be sure to follow all the instructions given by the doctor strictly.

Home Remedies to Treat Styes in Children

When it comes to providing some relief to and aiding in healing styes, there are some home remedies that you may find helpful if you want to treat a child’s stye.

1. Warm Tea Bag Compress

Black tea helps reduce inflammation and also has antibacterial properties. This makes it the perfect tea to use.

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How To Make 

  • Dip a tea bag into a mug full of boiled water. Let it steep for about a minute.
  • Once the teabag is cool enough for your child to tolerate on their eye, place it and leave it on the stye for at least five to ten minutes.

2. Turmeric Paste

Turmeric contains antibacterial properties and is known for its healing properties. Turmeric can help stop the infection from spreading.  

How To Make 

  • Mix some water with turmeric powder to make a paste.
  • Apply this on the stye and leave it for around fifteen minutes before rinsing with clean water.

3. Coconut Oil

Like turmeric, coconut oil is believed to have antimicrobial properties. It is best used for external styes. This will stop the infection from spreading in the eye and may provide relief from itchiness.

How To Make 

  • Apply a few drops of coconut oil to the stye.
  • Please do not use too much as it can cause more irritation rather than relief.

Complications of Stye in Children

While styes generally drain and heal on their own, here are a couple of possible complications that could arise because of a stye:

1. Cellulitis

There are instances where a serious eye infection called Cellulitis can form along with a stye. This can be seen when the area around the eye becomes red and swollen. A course of antibiotics will be needed to treat this infection.

2. Chalazion

A chalazion is similar to a stye and can sometimes be mistaken for a large one. If it is left untreated, it can prevent the eyelids from opening properly. A chalazion may also require antibiotics to heal.

When to See a Doctor?

The best thing to do is to ask yourself, ” how long do styes last?” and then keep a close eye on if your child is healing accordingly. If you do not find any improvement in the stye condition within four days, if the condition worsens, or if you find that it is causing redness and swelling in and around the eye, it is best to visit the doctor to have it checked.

A stye in kids may be a common problem, but as it can appear to be similar to other, more severe problems, it is best to have the stye checked up by a doctor. Encourage your child to practice good hygiene, as this is the best way to prevent and help heal styes.

Also Read:

Blindness in Kids
Eye Problems in Children
Eye Care Tips for Kids

This post was last modified on November 25, 2021 6:04 pm

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