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Child with stye.

Child with stye.
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A stye occurs when the glands in your eyelids become blocked and get infected. You may notice a small red lump or swelling on your eyelid.

The stye may feel sore and tender and may block part of your vision until it goes away. Styes usually clear up within a week after the glands have been unblocked. Here is what to do:

  • Hold a warm compress against your eye as this can help open up the blocked pores. A clean damp face washer that has been submerged in very warm water (as warm as you can tolerate) is ideal. Do this for 15 minutes four to six times a day. Always make sure your eye is closed when doing this.
  • Keep the area around your eye clean by gently washing your eyelid with water.
  • You can also clean your eyes by using a damp cotton wool pad to wipe away any discharge. Do not use dry cotton wool or a tissue to clean your eye as this may scratch it.
  • Try not to wear eye make-up or contact lenses until the stye has disappeared as this may irritate your eye and block the glands further.
  • Try not to poke, prod, squeeze or scratch the stye as this could cause an infection. Avoid using sharp objects, such as tweezers, around your eyes.

If you have an eye discharge, you should see your doctor.

Last reviewed: August 2015

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