How to Treat a Stye (Sty) in an Infant

Stye (Image: copperhill)

Styes (Sty) are an infection of the glands in the infant's eye, specifically the eyelid. These infections are typically a result of staphylococcal bacteria. Any fun loving infant is going to touch everything within reach and of course they are going to rub their eyes. The chances are high that your infant or toddler will suffer from a stye at some point. You should be able to treat your infant's stye at home.

Things You'll Need

  • Wash Cloths
  • Hand Sanitizer
  • Antibiotic Ointment

You initially need to identify the stye in your infant. The stye (sometimes spelled sty) will appear to be a small irritated bump on the eyelid. The stye bump will typically be located at the edge of the eyelid. The small bump may be red, swollen, or tender to touch. A stye will typically grow to its full size within 24 hours.

A condition called chalazion is similar to a stye. However, it will appear more slowly than the stye bump. It may take days or weeks for this bump to fully develop on your infant's eyelid. A chalazion bump is typically not red nor tender. Furthermore, it tends to be found farther from the edge of your baby's eyelid. If you suspect your baby has chalazion, contact your doctor to advise of the situation.

The chalazion bumps typically require drainage by a medical professional. But do not be overly concerned as there is no need for immediate urgency in treating the chalazion. If you suspect chalazion rather than a stye, check in with your pediatrician and arrange for a visit. Also note that attempting home treatment should not cause any harm.


To treat your infant's stye at home, you will apply warm, moist compresses to the eye lid at least three to four times per day. Be sure to use a clean wash cloth with each treatment of the stye. Apply the warm compress to the stye site for ten to fifteen minutes at each treatment. Getting a baby to allow you to place a warm cloth on their face for ten minutes may be challenging. You know your baby best, chose a time when they are relaxed and calm. Consider trying to apply the compress while the baby is sleeping.

This treatment process will allow the stye abcess to become raised. The stye membrane will become thin and the pus will be drawn closer to the surface. Often the stye will drain the pus on it's own, without further treatment. In some cases, a infant's stye will dissipate without reaching this point.

If your baby's stye is developed to the point of being ready to drain, yet it does not drain by it's self, your doctor can lance the stye bump. The doctor will use a small needle to open the baby's stye bump. Again, if the stye has not reached this point of development, the doctor may take no action. Trying to drain a stye that is not ready, will not typically be successful. Your doctor will likely advise you to continue to treat the stye by applying warm compresses.

Warm Compress
Warm Compress

Attempt to keep your infant from rubbing the stye area and wash your baby's hands often. Also ask your doctor about using antibiotic ointments. While these ointments do not typically make the stye go away any quicker, they can prevent a spread of any further infection.

If your baby is diagnosed with chalazion, your doctor may suggest minor surgery as a treatment. Understand, that chalazion is not neccessarily dangerous and often go away on their own. You will need to evaluate whether you should put your child through this process. Have a detailed discussion with your doctor so you can make an informed decision.

Tips & Warnings

  • Seek medical attention if the bumps are not confined to your infant's eyelids. This likely indicates a different problem other than a stye.
  • If you notice an problems with vision, contact your pediatrician.
  • If the baby's tear duct itself appears swollen or red, seek medical care.

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