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Question:
My daughter has been getting recurring styes in her eyes, which eventually become infected. We were told by the doctor to apply hot compresses. However she has been getting them at least twice a month. She sometimes gets a fever with them. She is 9 years old. Is there a more effective treatment available?     

Answer:
This is a common problem. Styes are little boils. They respond well to local warm compresses and occasionally need antibiotics as well. I suspect, however, that she has chalazia, which are small cysts which will recur if not properly treated. Start with a comprehensive examination by an ophthalmologist (Eye M.D.). He or she should be able to distinguish between the two, although it can be difficult at times.

If they are styes, she should also be seen by a dermatologist and an allergist to see if there is an underlying skin disorder or immunologic deficiency.

If they are chalazia, she may have rosacea or another skin condition which is contributing to them. Most of the time, when they are recurrent, there is an underlying blepharitis. Treatment in that case may include antibiotics, a drop called Azasite, warm compresses, lid scrubs, omega 3 oils (by mouth), surgical removal of the chalazia (which are damaged meibomian glands in the eyelids), etc. If they have been around for a while, they will clear up slowly. There are some commercially available products called Sterilid and Ocusoft that cleanse the skin of the eyelids. Recently, a machine to treat the eyelids in refractory cases has come on the market, but I am not aware that it has been tested in children, and it is both expensive and currently not covered by many health insurance plans.

Answered by: Richard G. Shugarman, MDDr. Richard Shugarman

Categories: Eye Conditions

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Answered: Jan 12, 2013

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