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Styes in Children: Care Instructions

Picture of a stye


A stye is an infection in small oil glands at the root of an eyelash or in the eyelids. This causes a tender red lump on or near the edge of the eyelid. Styes may break open and drain a tiny amount of pus. They usually are not contagious.

Styes almost always clear up on their own in a few days or weeks. Putting a warm, wet compress on the area can help it open and heal. A stye rarely needs antibiotics or other treatment.

After your child has had a stye, they're more likely to get another stye.

Follow-up care is a key part of your child's treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse advice line (811 in most provinces and territories) if your child is having problems. It's also a good idea to know your child's test results and keep a list of the medicines your child takes.

How can you care for your child at home?

  • Allow the stye to break open by itself. Do not squeeze or try to pop open a stye.
  • Put a warm, moist face cloth or piece of gauze on your child's eye for about 10 minutes, 3 to 6 times a day. This helps a stye heal faster. The face cloth or piece of gauze should be clean. Wet it with warm tap water. Do not use hot water, and do not heat the wet face cloth or gauze in a microwave oven. It can become too hot and burn the eyelid.
  • Always wash your hands before and after you treat or touch your child's eyes.
  • If the doctor gave you medicine, have your child use it exactly as prescribed. Call your doctor or nurse advice line if you think your child is having a problem with a medicine.
  • Do not share towels, pillows, or face cloths while your child has a stye.

To prevent styes

  • Try to keep your child from rubbing their eyes.
  • Keep your child's hands clean and away from their eyes, especially if your child or a close contact has a stye or a skin infection elsewhere on the body.
  • Have your child remove eye makeup before going to sleep.
  • Eye makeup can spread germs. Do not share eye makeup, and replace it at least every 6 months.

When should you call for help?

Call your doctor or nurse advice line now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • Your child has signs of an eye infection, such as:
    • Pus or thick discharge coming from the eye.
    • Redness or swelling around the eye.
    • A fever.
  • Your child has vision changes.

Watch closely for changes in your child's health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse advice line if:

  • Your child does not get better as expected.

Where can you learn more?

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Care instructions adapted under license by your healthcare professional. If you have questions about a medical condition or this instruction, always ask your healthcare professional. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information.