As parents, we're used to our kids presenting us with a myriad of medical maladies from strange-looking rashes to all sorts of bumps and spots that make us wonder, "What is that?" If your child turns up sporting a tender-looking red lump on his eyelid, here's some help: It may be a stye, a painful, red bump that appears when an oil gland on the eyelid gets clogged. Styes are common in both children and adults. The good news: They are generally harmless, and the majority of them get better on their own, says David L. Rogers, M.D., clinical assistant professor of ophthalmology at The Ohio State University, director of research in the department of ophthalmology at Nationwide Children's Hospital in Columbus, Ohio, and a member of the American Association for Pediatric Ophthalmology and Strabismus (AAPOS).
The first clue that something is brewing, is often an eyelid that feels tender, along with redness in the area. As the stye develops, you'll see a red bump emerge at the base of the eyelashes. In addition, your child may also complain of:
- A feeling that something is in his eye- Sensitivity to light- Tearing
A stye can usually be treated with warm compresses, says Dr. Rogers. "However, if it progressively gets larger or does not show signs of improvement within a few days, contact the doctor," he says.
The American Academy of Ophthalmology offers these tips for treating a stye at home:
- Wet a clean washcloth with warm water, wring it out, and place it over the closed eye for ten to 15 minutes. As the washcloth cools, wet it with more warm water.- Continue to put a warm compress on the area three to four times a day for at least a week. The warm compress can help the blocked gland to open and allow discharge to drain.- Do not try to drain the stye by squeezing it.
If warm compresses don't work, your child's doctor may prescribe anti-inflammatory eye drops or, in some cases, may have to make a small opening to drain the stye. "A stye is a sterile inflammatory response, not an infection," explains Dr. Rogers. "But a stye can become infected. In that case, you would need an antibiotic."
To help prevent styes, make it a habit to wash your hands before touching the skin around your child's eyes, and teach him to do the same.
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