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How to Treat Eye Styes

Q. My child gets recurrent styes in her eye -- what's causing this, and how do I treat them?

Styes are pimplelike infections in the glands of the eyelid, and they can grow on the inside or the outside of the lid. Some people are more prone to them, especially those with blepharitis, an inflammation of the skin of the eyelids. (Blepharitis is often a manifestation, sometimes the only one, of seborrheic dermatitis, a type of skin inflammation that you know as cradle cap or dandruff.) The good news: Styes aren't harmful to your child's vision, and most go away on their own in a few days. Speed the healing process along by applying warm compresses three or four times a day for about ten minutes at a time at the first sign of a bump on the lid. Also, give your child's eyelids a gentle daily cleaning with a soft cloth and some watered-down tear-free baby shampoo. If it's persistent, a call to the doctor, and perhaps a referral to an ophthalmologist, makes sense.