KidsMD Health Topics

Stye (Hordeolum)

  • Overview

    A hordeolum, more commonly known as a stye, is an inflammation of part of the eyelash.

    • Styes are seen more often in children than adults.
    • A stye is caused by an infection in the oil-producing sebaceous or sweat glands in the eyelid.
    • Treatment may include applying warm, wet compresses or antibiotic ointments, or having your child wash his or her face daily and refrain from wearing make-up until the infection heals.

    Children's Hospital Boston
    300 Longwood Avenue
    Boston MA 02115

     617-355-7701
     fax: 617-730-0505

  • In-Depth

    What is a hordeolum (stye)?

    A hordeolum, more commonly known as a stye, is an inflammation of part of the eyelash. This condition is seen more often in children than in adults.

    What causes a stye?

    A stye is caused by an infection in the oil-producing sebaceous or sweat glands in the eyelid. The infection is usually caused by bacteria called Staphylococcus aureus.

    What are the symptoms of a stye?

    Each child may experience symptoms differently, but the most common symptoms of a stye include:

    • swelling of the eyelid
    • redness at the edge of the eyelid
    • pain over the affected area
    • tenderness

    Because the symptoms of a stye may resemble other conditions or medical problems, you should always consult your child's physician for a diagnosis.

  • Tests

    How is a stye diagnosed?

    A stye is usually diagnosed based on a complete medical history and physical examination of your child. Additional tests are not usually required to confirm the diagnosis.

  • Treatment may include:

    • applying warm, wet compresses to your child's eye for a period of approximately 15 minutes, several times throughout the day
    • instructing your child not to squeeze or rub the stye
    • having your child wash his or her hands frequently
    • applying antibiotic ointments for the eye, which doesn't make the stye go away faster but can help stop the spread of the infection to other parts of the eye
    • having your child wash his or her face daily, including the eye
    • having your child refrain from wearing make-up until the infection heals
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