So my daughter has a “stye” – a huge, red, did I say HUGE, massive bump on her eyelid that no matter what we do will NOT go away.
She has had styes before. We put compresses on them: warm clothes, warm tea bags, a little ointment for a week or so, and they went away. Not this one. It will go down in size making you hopeful that is finally going away, only to come back a day or two later. Like a houseguest that finally leaves after an extended visit only to have their flight cancelled and they call you from the taxi on their way back to your apartment.
Everywhere we go people ask “do you see that thing on your child’s eye?”. I have to stop myself from responding “Um, no – I can’t!” but have to go through the whole BS of what it is, that yes I am not a horrible father and we are trying to treat it, blah blah blah.
So what is a Stye?
Web MD says: “A stye or hordeolum is a small, painful lump on the inside or outside of the eyelid. It is actually an abscess filled with pus and is usually caused by a staphylococcus bacteria eye infection.”
And to complicate things – there are also Chalazions – which are easily confused with styes, which is actually what my daughter has! A chalazion is a small, usually painless, lump or swelling that appears on your eyelid. A blocked meibomian or oil gland causes this condition. It can develop on the upper or lower eyelid, and may disappear without treatment. Chalazia is the term for multiple chalazion.
A stye is caused by a bacteria infection while a chalazion is not.
Now that is clear – let’s talk about treatments. Like I wrote earlier, the majority of articles say to use warm compresses and styes need antibacterial ointment or drops while chalazions do not.
But after months of applying compresses that did almost nothing, I took my daughter to the doctor. They said that her vision was perfect and there were two options for us with this unwelcome bump: more compresses or surgery where they put my daughter under. Not wanting to put her (or us) through that, we decided to be really diligent about the compresses. We asked the doctor what else we could do since the tea bags and compresses hadn’t worked, and she said “Use a potato. And after you finish you can have a snack!”
Wait – WHAT? Potatoes?
She said to heat a potato in the microwave until it was warm and put it on the eye b/c it retains heat longer than a warm compress alone would!
Well, sure enough, this worked! Instead of applying directly on her eye, we do the following:
- Cut a small sliver or wedge of potato and heat in the microwave for 10-15 seconds.
- Wet a wash cloth with warm water
- Wrap the heated potato in the wash cloth so it is not too hot for the eye (I usually test it on my own eye or my inner wrist to make sure it is warm, but NOT hot as I do not want to burn the kiddo)
- Keep the compress on for 5-10 minutes
Within a few days that pesky bump had bubbled up into a smaller bump and ultimately popped open with blood and puss or whatever it was coming out. We had some eye ointment that we put on to keep with the healing, and kept repeating the compress/ointment combo as many times a day that we could.
I hope this helps you when your kid has a stye or chalazion! As always – please check with your physician or optometrist as I am not a doctor and every situation is different!!