How to Definitively Get Rid of a Stye (Safe Treatment)


Most styes heal with minimal intervention. Knowing the right methods to use, what to avoid doing, and when to seek help from a doctor is imperative to get rid of a stye.

A stye is a common infection affecting the eyelid.(Learn More) Some styes can affect the whole eyelid, and they tend to be very painful.

A stye is caused by bacteria building up. There are several potential causes, such as meibomian gland dysfunction or chronic blepharitis. (Learn More)

Once a stye is present, the pain and discomfort encourage people to start treating it. There are many old wives’ tales that can do more harm than good. It is important to only used approved treatments and methods to alleviate the symptoms. (Learn More)

For many styes, conservative methods that you use at home are enough to treat the problem. However, there are cases where you may need to seek treatment from a doctor to reduce your discomfort and to encourage your stye to heal.

What Are Styes?

A stye is a lump that develops under the eyelid or at the eyelash base. It is red and painful. In most cases, a bacterial infection causes styes. There are two types of styes.

  • Internal: This stye develops inside the eyelid. When an oil-producing gland gets infected, this type of stye can result.
  • External: This stye develops at the eyelash base. It sometimes resembles a pimple. When a hair follicle gets infected, this type of stye can occur.

When a stye first starts to develop, the eyelid can be tender when someone touches it and red. The eye may be scratchy and sore. Other stye symptoms may include:

  • A small pus spot at the center of the stye bump.
  • Sensitivity to light.
  • Tearing of the eye.
  • The sensation of something being stuck in the eye.
  • Crust along the eyelid margin.

Causes of Styes

Everyone is at risk for styes. The following can increase the risk of developing a stye:

  • Blepharitis, a condition characterized by oily flakes and bacteria at the eyelash base causing swelling, redness, and a burning sensation of the eyelid
  • Seborrheic dermatitis, acne rosacea, or a similar skin condition
  • A history of styes
  • Certain medical conditions, such as diabetes

Stye vs. Chalazion

It is important to distinguish between a chalazion and a stye before starting treatment. In some cases, they can look similar.

When an oil gland in the eyelid gets clogged, a chalazion can develop. It takes the form of an eyelid bump.

A chalazion can begin as an internal stye. A chalazion might not be apparent at first since it is often painless, or the pain is minimal. However, as it gets bigger, the affected eyelid can become swollen, red, and tender when someone touches it.

Once a chalazion gets big, blurry vision can occur if someone presses on the eye. In rare cases, the entire eyelid can become swollen.

Telling the difference between the two comes down to two factors:

  • The pain of a stye is typically significant while the pain of a chalazion is minimal at most.
  • With a stye, the whole eyelid can sometimes be affected. With a chalazion, it is rare that the whole eyelid swells.

Stye Treatments

There are many ways to treat a stye. Some treatments can be done at home without any prescriptions or assistance from a doctor, and can work quickly to remove the stye. If a stye does not respond to home treatments, medical treatment may be necessary.

It is important start treating a stye as soon as it is noticed. When a stye goes untreated, it can become a chalazion.

Popping & Other Methods: What Not to Do

When a stye develops, there are certain actions to avoid since doing these things could worsen the problem. You may want to get rid of the stye as fast as possible, but ensuring safe treatment should take precedent.

Never pop a stye. This could increase the risk of further infection that could spread into the eye.

Keep the eye area clean. Avoid contact lenses or makeup until the stye heals completely. These could irritate the stye and potentially cause additional issues and more intense discomfort.

Home Treatments

A warm compress is often recommended. Take a clean washcloth and soak it with warm water. Squeeze out the excess water and place it on the affected eye for approximately 10 minutes. Never use hot water since this could burn the delicate skin around the eyes. Do this about four times per day, using a clean washcloth each time.

Doctors might also recommend massage, but people must be careful using this method. Gently and carefully massage the affected area. Use the fingertips for this purpose. Do not squeeze the stye or poke the eye.

Other home treatments include:

  • It is important to keep the affected eye clean. Warm water and tear-free baby shampoo are usually recommended for this purpose. Doctors might also recommend saline solution to break down bacterial membranes and promote drainage.
  • Pain medicine. Styes can cause significant pain. An over-the-counter pain medication may be recommended to reduce discomfort. Doctors may suggest acetaminophen or ibuprofen.

Before using any home treatment, it is important to consult a doctor. They can advise on how to properly use these methods. They will also accurately diagnose a stye and instruct on the best treatments for the particular situation.

Medical Treatments

Many people respond to home treatments and do not require further care. It is possible, even with home treatment, to get rid of a stye overnight or within 1 to 2 days. However, if after 48 hours of home treatments, the stye does not respond, medical treatments may be considered, according to the Cleveland Clinic.

  • Antibiotics: These are usually either an eye drop or an ointment. The eye drops are applied directly to the eye, and the ointment is applied directly to the affected area.

There are cases where an oral antibiotic might be considered:

  • The infection has spread to other areas of the eye.
  • The doctor had to surgically drain an internal stye.
  • Steroid shots: Inflammation and swelling can occur when someone has a stye. If these are significant, the doctor might recommend an injection to reduce both the inflammation and swelling. The injections use corticosteroids.

The doctor uses a small needle for this to reduce the risk of discomfort. The total procedure only takes a few minutes. Before administering the injection, the doctor may numb the area to further reduce discomfort.

  • Surgical draining: If other methods fail to provide relief, the doctor might recommend surgically draining the stye.While rare, superficial cellulitis may develop as a result of a stye. This could lead to an abscess, which is a more serious infection. A mass occurs that is filled with pus and swollen. Draining this is important.

This procedure is done in the doctor’s office. Following the drainage, the doctor might also prescribe antibiotics for up to 10 days to clear the infection.

If a chalazion develops from a stye and does not go away after 30 to 60 days of other treatments, the doctor may recommend surgically draining it. This procedure is also performed in the doctor’s office and takes approximately 15 to 20 minutes.

The doctor numbs the eyelid before making the small incision to drain it. Within the nodule, any material and fluid are removed and drained. In most cases, people do not need stitches after this surgery.

Following the procedure, the doctor may prescribe antibiotic eye drops or cream for approximately one week. A pressure eye patch may also be applied.

Other Treatment Options

In addition to these treatments, there are eyelid scrubs that may be beneficial. There are different types of scrubs available. Some are similar to a shampoo. Gently scrub the stye and surrounding area using this type of scrub.

They contain different active ingredients. Some contain melaleuca alternifolia, a tea tree oil active ingredient, and other contain hypochlorous acid, a type of natural chemical. Some scrubs contain 4-terpineol. The scrubs with this active ingredient may be recommended if someone has underlying blepharitis.

Since styes are a type of bacterial infection, don’t just ignore them. Make sure to only used approved treatments. Talk to a doctor if the stye gets worse or does not improve.


Stye and Chalazia. American Academy of Ophthalmology.

Who Is at Risk for Chalazia and Styes? American Academy of Ophthalmology.

Is It OK to Pop a Stye? American Academy of Ophthalmology.

Treatment and Symptoms of a Stye on the Eyelid. Verywell Health.

Sty (Stye): Management and Treatment. Cleveland Clinic.

The 8 Best Stye Remedies. Healthline.

What Can I Do About a Stye? Medical News Today.

Surgery for Style. New York University Langone Health.


How to Get Rid of a Stye


  • Symptoms
  • Treatment
  • When to Call Your Doctor

If you have a small, red, tender bump inside or outside your eyelid, it's probably a stye. It looks a pimple, and it can be sore. But it's not usually serious and won't affect how you see.

A stye happens when one of the glands along your eyelid becomes clogged and irritated — a skin gland on your face gets clogged and irritated and becomes a pimple. People usually have it on just one eyelid, but you can have one in both eyes at the same time. A stye may be a one-time thing or may come back.

When you first get a stye, you may have redness or a tender feeling near your eyelid. Here are other signs:

  • A red bump with or without a small pus spot in the center
  • The feeling that there's something in your eye
  • Your eye feels sensitive to bright light
  • Crust along the eyelid
  • A scratchy or itchy feeling around the eye
  • Your eye makes extra tears

After several days, most styes burst or go away on their own. But cleaning it will help bring the pus out. Then it will drain on its own. You can do a few things to get rid of it faster:

  • Soak a clean washcloth in very warm water and put it over the stye (wash your hands first). Do this for 5 to 10 minutes several times a day. Afterwards, gently massage the area to try to get the clogged gland to open so the stye can drain.
  • Keep your face and eyes very clean, and get rid of any crust you see around your eye.

Because the stye looks a pimple, you might want to squeeze it. Don't do that. It can make things worse.

If the stye is sore, you can try a pain reliever ibuprofen (Advil or Motrin).

Don't wear eye makeup, and switch to glasses if you wear contacts. After the stye has healed, make sure you clean and disinfect your contact lenses in the solutions recommended by your eye doctor. Or, better yet, go with a new pair of lenses.

Styes that recur are often related to an eye disease called blepharitis. If you have recurring styes, you should see an eye doctor for evaluation.

You shouldn't have to see your doctor for a stye. But it's a good idea to make an appointment if:

  • It doesn't get better after a few days, or it gets worse.
  • Your eye (not just your eyelid) hurts a lot.
  • You can't see well.
  • Your eyelid swells, turns very red, and won't open completely.
  • You keep getting styes.

If the stye won't go away on its own or if you have trouble seeing, your doctor may give you an antibiotic cream or drain the stye after numbing the area around it.

If you get styes often, scrub your eyelids every couple of days with watered-down baby shampoo on a washcloth, or use an over-the-counter lid scrub.


Cleveland Clinic: “Styes — How You Can Avoid Them and Best Treatment Tips.”

National Health Service (UK), NHS Choices: “Stye.”

American Academy of Ophthalmology: “What Causes Chalazia and Styes?”

KidsHealth: “Styes.”

Mayo Clinic: “Sty.”

American Academy of Ophthalmology: “Chalazia and Stye Treatment.”

© 2018 WebMD, LLC. All rights reserved.




A stye, also known as a hordeolum, is a common problem involving the eye seen in both primary and urgent care setting. It is a painful, acute infectious process of the upper or lower eyelid.

Classically a hordeolum appears as a small pustule along the margin of the eyelid and can be differentiated from a chalazion which tends to involve less of an inflammatory response and follows a more chronic course.[1][2]

An acute bacterial infection of the eyelid margin, 90% to 95% of cases of hordeolum are due to Staphylococcus aureus with Staphylococcus epidermidis being the second most common cause. An external hordeolum represents a localized abscess formation of the follicle of an eyelash whereas an internal hordeolum is an acute bacterial infection of the meibomian glands of the eyelid.[3][4]

A chalazion is an acute or chronic inflammation of the eyelid secondary to obstruction of oil glands (meibomian or Zeis) in the tarsal plate and a foreign body reaction to sebum. Processes that block the normal drainage of sebaceous glands, such as hordeolum, acne rosacea, and blepharitis, can contribute to the development of chalazia.

While hordeola are very common, the exact incidence is unknown. Every age and demographic is affected although there is a slight increase in incidence in patients ages 30 to 50. There are no known differences in prevalence among populations worldwide. Patients with chronic conditions such as seborrhoeic dermatitis, diabetes, and high serum lipids may also be at increased risk.[5][6]

Three different glands within the eyelid are implicated in the pathogenesis of hordeolum when they become infected by S. aureus.

Infection of Zeis and Moll glands (ciliary glands) causes pain and swelling at the base of the eyelash with localized abscess formation. Termed external hordeolum, these produce the typical appearance of a stye with a localized pustule of the eyelid margin.

The meibomian glands are modified sebaceous glands that are found in the tarsal plate of the eyelids. They produce an oily layer on the surface of the eye that helps to maintain proper lubrication of the eye.

When a meibomian gland becomes acutely infected, it results in an internal hordeolum. Due to its deeper position within the eyelid, internal hordeola have a less defined appearance than external hordeolum.

Chalazia occur secondary to mechanical obstruction and dysfunction of the meibomian gland with subsequent stasis and blockage of the release of sebum. This condition tends to be subacute to chronic and presents with a painless nodule within the eyelid or at the lid margin.

Usually, patients present complaining of a confined burning, tender swelling on one eyelid. Either the upper or lower lid may be involved. In some cases, the complaint may start as generalized edema and erythema of the lid that later becomes localized.

Patients will frequently have a history of similar prior lesions of the eyelid. With external hordeolum, pain, edema, and swelling are localized to a discrete area of the eyelid that is tender to palpation. The stye generally appears as a pustule with mild erythema of the lid margin.

Pustular exudate may be present.

Patients with internal hordeolum present with more diffuse tenderness and erythema of the lid given the relatively larger meibomian gland. Diagnosis may be made by everting the lid to reveal a small pustule of the conjunctival surface.

The physical exam may appear very similar to an external hordeolum in cases when the gland is infected but without obstruction.

Treatment for both internal and external hordeolum is the same, so differentiation of the two is not of significant clinical importance.

In contrast to hordeola, chalazion will have a more indolent and chronic presentation. Patients complain of non-tender nodules of the eyelid with minimal to no surrounding erythema. For persistent chalazion, chronic skin changes can develop around the underlying nodule.

The diagnosis of a stye (hordeolum) and chalazion requires only a history and physical exam. No diagnostic tests are required or useful in their diagnosis.

Colonization with noninvasive bacteria is common, and bacterial cultures of discharge from the area usually do not correlate with clinical improvement nor aid in treatment.

The clinical presentation of an acute chalazion and an internal hordeolum may be challenging to differentiate, but fortunately, management is the same.

A stye is usually a self-limiting condition with resolution occurring spontaneously within a week. Both internal and external hordeola are treated similarly. To hasten recovery and prevent the spread of infection, warm compresses and erythromycin ophthalmic ointment applied twice a day are usually sufficient treatment.

There is little evidence demonstrating a benefit from the use of topical antibiotics but erythromycin ointment use for 7 to 10 days has been recommended. Warm compresses should be applied for 15 minutes at least four times a day.

Gentle massage of the nodule has also been suggested to assist in the expression of the obstructed material. Oral antibiotics are rarely indicated unless there are significant surrounding erythema and a concern for periorbital cellulitis.

For very large hordeola in which incision and drainage are considered, referral to an ophthalmologist is appropriate. Reevaluation within 2 to 3 days is appropriate to assess response to treatment.[7][8][9]

Conservative treatment is the mainstay of therapy for chalazia. Warm compresses and washing the affected eyelid with a gentle soap such as baby shampoo will usually be the only treatment required. Given that the etiology is inflammatory and not infectious, antibiotics are not necessary.

For recurrent chalazion or those refractory to conservative treatment, corticosteroid injection into the lesion or incision and curettage may be needed. These procedures necessitate referral to an ophthalmologist.

Patients with chalazia should be referred to an ophthalmologist for nonurgent evaluation.

Although it occurs very uncommonly, an untreated stye may evolve into a localized cellulitis of the eyelid and surrounding skin. Periorbital, or rarely, orbital cellulitis, may ensue if progression of the infection is allowed to occur.

Any worsening erythema and edema beyond a localized pustule should be monitored closely for cellulitis, which may require systemic antibiotics.

For infections that are not well localized, blood tests including a complete blood count (CBC) with differential and blood cultures may be needed, in addition to an orbital CT scan if orbital cellulitis is a possibility.

Blepharitis is a related condition that involves inflammation of the eyelid margin characterized by erythematous, pruritic eyelids, conjunctival injection, crusting or matting of the eyelids, and occasionally flaking of the eyelid skin.

In contradistinction to hordeolum and chalazion, blepharitis should not have a discrete nodule within the eyelid.

Treatment involves warm compresses, gentle washing of the eyelids with warm water or diluted baby shampoo, and if these attempts are unsuccessful, a topical antibiotic such as erythromycin.

A Stye may be encountered by the emergency department physician, nurse practitioner, internist or the primary care provider.

Most styes can be managed conservatively by these healthcare professionals, but if there is any doubt about the diagnosis, the patient should be referred to an ophthalmologist.

Styes do respond rapidly to warm compresses and erythromycin ointment. However, the patient must be seen again within 48 to 72 hours to ensure that healing is taking place.

The outcomes for most patients with a stye are excellent.[10] (Level II)

To access free multiple choice questions on this topic, click here.

Stye (external Hordeolum). Contributed by the Public Domain

1.Bragg KJ, Le PH, Le JK. StatPearls [Internet]. StatPearls Publishing; Treasure Island (FL): Jan 7, 2020. Hordeolum. [PubMed: 28723014]2.Lindsley K, Nichols JJ, Dickersin K. Non-surgical interventions for acute internal hordeolum. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2017 Jan 09;1:CD007742. [PMC free article: PMC5370090] [PubMed: 28068454]3.Carlisle RT, Digiovanni J. Differential Diagnosis of the Swollen Red Eyelid. Am Fam Physician. 2015 Jul 15;92(2):106-12. [PubMed: 26176369]4.Amato M, Pershing S, Walvick M, Tanaka S. Trends in ophthalmic manifestations of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) in a northern California pediatric population. J AAPOS. 2013 Jun;17(3):243-7. [PubMed: 23623773]5.Moriya K, Shimizu H, Handa S, Sasaki T, Sasaki Y, Takahashi H, Nakamura S, Yoshida H, Kato Y. Incidence of Ophthalmic Disorders in Patients Treated with the Antineoplastic Agent S-1. Gan To Kagaku Ryoho. 2017 Jun;44(6):501-506. [PubMed: 28698442]6.Ansari AS, de Lusignan S, Hinton W, Munro N, McGovern A. The association between diabetes, level of glycaemic control and eye infection: Cohort database study. Prim Care Diabetes. 2017 Oct;11(5):421-429. [PubMed: 28648963]7.Pflipsen M, Massaquoi M, Wolf S. Evaluation of the Painful Eye. Am Fam Physician. 2016 Jun 15;93(12):991-8. [PubMed: 27304768]8.John AM, John ES, Hansberry DR, Thomas PJ, Guo S. Analysis of online patient education materials in pediatric ophthalmology. J AAPOS. 2015 Oct;19(5):430-4. [PubMed: 26486024]9.Machalińska A, Zakrzewska A, Safranow K, Wiszniewska B, Machaliński B. Risk Factors and Symptoms of Meibomian Gland Loss in a Healthy Population. J Ophthalmol. 2016;2016:7526120. [PMC free article: PMC5124676] [PubMed: 27965892]10.Hirunwiwatkul P, Wachirasereechai K. Effectiveness of combined antibiotic ophthalmic solution in the treatment of hordeolum after incision and curettage: a randomized, placebo-controlled trial: a pilot study. J Med Assoc Thai. 2005 May;88(5):647-50. [PubMed: 16149682]


Sty (Stye) Causes, Treatment, Symptoms, Remedies & Pictures

Coronavirus COVID-19: Latest News and Information Source: MedicineNet

Sty (stye) facts

  • There are two distinct types of styes: hordeolum and chalazion. Each has different causes and treatments.
  • A hordeolum is a blockage of one of the sweat glands found in the skin of the lid and base of the eyelashes, or one of the small sebaceous glands found at the base of the eyelashes. Sebaceous glands secrete sebum, a waxy, oily material.
  • A chalazion is a blockage of a meibomian gland, which is a special oil gland (sebaceous) unique to the eyelids. These glands form a single row in each lid, with the body of the gland located inside the eyelid, and the opening located at the rim of the lid, posterior to the lashes.

Stys (styes) in most people are not contagious unless certain circumstances are met, such as touching a sty and then transferring the infection to another person where it may or may not cause a sty or another infection.

Some experts believe that usually, most people with a sty develop it when some normal occurring and/or transient bacteria multiply in the eyelid. Because these bacteria are not necessarily transferred from one person to another, some researchers consider a sty to be noncontagious.

Others, however, feel that if another person touches the infected eye it's possible to transfer the infection person to person. However, it is rare so these experts consider a stye to be a contagious disease.

Click for more about how stys (styes) spread » Source: EYE TV

What are sty (stye) symptoms and signs?

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The symptoms of a sty are

  • foreign body sensation in the eye (particularly with blinking),
  • eye pressure, and
  • a painful red bump, though often they are painless.

There may also be blurred vision if thick sebum or pus from within the sty spreads over the eye's surface.

If chronic meibomian gland dysfunction is present, dry eye symptoms are common. This is because the meibomian glands secrete an oil onto the surface of the eye to prevent the water layer of tears from evaporating too rapidly from the eye's surface between blinks. Therefore, poorly functioning meibomian glands can lead to dry eye.

Signs of a sty include

  • presence of a lump or bump ( a pimple) on the edge of the eyelid,
  • redness of the skin overlying the eyelid bump, and
  • swelling and puffy appearance of the eyelid.

If the sty is draining material from the gland's opening, there may be thick discharge or crusty material accumulating on the lids and lashes. In some cases, the skin overlying the sty will become thinned and the thick material within the sty (pus) may ooze out through a break in the skin. Watery tears can also be produced in response to irritation and pain.

Stys can be external, meaning the blocked gland protrudes outward and appears as a visible swelling under the skin, or interior, in which the blocked gland protrudes behind or under the eyelid.

Source: MedicineNet

What causes a sty (stye)?

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Styes occur when a gland in or on the eyelid becomes plugged or blocked. This can occur if the gland's opening is obstructed by scar tissue or a foreign substance (makeup, dust), or if there is thickening of the substance produced by the gland, causing the material to flow sluggishly or not at all.

What are the risk factors for a sty (stye)?

The most common risk factor is sluggish outflow of the sebum from the meibomian glands, which is commonly seen in a chronic inflammatory condition called meibomian gland dysfunction (also commonly called meibomian gland disease, meibomitis, meibomianitis, or blepharitis).

Meibomian gland dysfunction is frequently associated with acne rosacea on the cheeks and nose but can also be seen alone.

Other risks include obstruction of the gland's opening by scar tissue following infections, burns, or trauma. Foreign substances such as makeup and dust can also clog the gland's opening if not properly washed away.

Sty See a picture of eye diseases and conditions See Images Source: EYE TV

Which types of specialists treat stys?

Health care providers, including pediatricians and emergency medicine physicians, often diagnose and treat eye problems. Eye specialists, including optometrists and ophthalmologists, are called upon to treat more advanced cases such as styes that appear infected or those that recur.

What tests diagnose stys (styes)?

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The health care professional will examine the lids to locate the opening of the plugged gland. This helps to distinguish between a hordeolum and a chalazion. Also, the doctor will look for signs of scar tissue, foreign bodies, and underlying chronic meibomitis.

In addition, the doctor will look for any signs that the gland may have become infected. It is particularly important to identify infection that has spread from the gland to the eye, neighboring skin, or orbit.

What home remedies relieve pain from a sty (stye)?

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The best home treatment to get rid of a stye is to apply a warm water compress as often as possible. It is important to remember that a chalazion may take months to resolve completely.

Source: iStock

How long does it take for a sty (stye) to go away?

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A noninfected sty will resolve on its own. Warm compresses will help soften the material in the gland, allowing the gland's contents to drain naturally. Squeezing, popping, or cutting the hordeolum should be avoided as this can result in scarring.

A noninfected chalazion similarly will resolve on its own with the aid of warm compresses, though over a much longer period of time. A small chalazion may resolve within weeks, while larger ones may resolve over the course of a year. As the chalazion decreases in size, patients feel gradual relief from their symptoms.

What is the treatment for stys (styes)?

The most conservative treatment is application of frequent warm (not too hot) compresses alone. This can be accomplished with a wet warm washcloth, microwaveable eye masks (sold at drugstores), or a plug-in electric heating pad. The key is to dedicate as much time as possible to treatment with the warm compress.

Several minutes at a time (for example, 15 minutes), several times a day (for example, four times per day) will improve the odds that the sty or chalazion will clear on its own. A child may need help applying the warm compress.

Be sure to check the temperature of the compress against another part of your skin, such as the back of your hand, to ensure the compress does not burn your eye or face.

An ophthalmologist can inject a steroid into the lesion, often resulting in a speedier resolution. However, this carries a small risk of bleeding/bruising, depigmentation/thinning of the skin, scar, pain, and in very rare cases, loss of vision.

Finally, the chalazion can be incised and drained. This is the most invasive method and is reserved as a last resort by most eye doctors. The eyelid is anesthetized, and a clamp is placed around the chalazion.

The eyelid is everted, and the meibomian gland is incised from the back surface of the eyelid, avoiding cutting the skin on the front surface. The waxy sebum is scooped the gland with a special curette.

This debulking of the gland's contents may be sufficient to shrink the chalazion; however, there is risk that the chalazion may recur, particularly if the underlying cause is not addressed.

If a sty appears infected, oral antibiotics may be necessary. An abscess can form in the eyelid. A culture of the material in the chalazion is sometimes obtained to identify the bacterium.

Antibiotic treatment is particularly important if the bacterial infection is spreading along the skin (cellulitis) or spreading into the orbit (orbital cellulitis).

Orbital cellulitis is considered an emergency, as rapidly spreading infection can be vision or life-threatening. Orbital cellulitis treatment usually requires intravenous antibiotics.

In some situations, the infection spreads to the eye itself. If conjunctivitis (pinkeye) develops, topical ophthalmic antibiotics (antibiotic ointments or drops) might be necessary.

Treatment of the underlying cause of the sty is also important to prevent recurrence.

Some eye doctors will recommend not wearing contact lenses or eye makeup until the sty resolves. This is especially the case if there's concern about a concurrent infection.

Common Eye Problems and Infections See Slideshow Source: MedicineNet

What are complications of stys?

When a sty or chalazion clears on its own, there are rarely complications.

A steroid injection carries the complication of possible scarring of the lid, discoloration (depigmentation) of the overlying skin, infection, bleeding or bruising, and in extremely rare situations, blindness if the steroid is injected improperly.

Incision and drainage of a chalazion carries a risk of scarring or deformity of the eyelid, bleeding, or bruising.

If a sty or chalazion becomes infected, the infection can spread to the eye (conjunctivitis or corneal keratitis), skin (cellulitis), or orbit (orbital cellulitis). Prompt treatment for these complications is extremely important, and your ophthalmologist will prescribe the appropriate antibiotics when indicated.

Very rarely, a chronic, recurring chalazion is a sign of a cancer in the eyelid. An ophthalmologist will look for signs of malignancy and obtain a biopsy of one is suspected.

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Source: MedicineNet

What is the prognosis for a sty (stye)?

A hordeolum may resolve in a few days, while a chalazion may take months. Both types of styes should resolve completely once the plugged gland drains. If an infection sets in, treatment will be necessary.

Recurrence is ly if chronic underlying conditions aren't addressed.

In the case of meibomitis, your eye doctor will ly recommend daily cleansing of the eyelids and eyelashes with a gentle soap (such as baby shampoo).

Increased intake of omega-3 fatty acids in the diet or from supplements may also help improve the flow of the sebum. Small doses of oral doxycycline are prescribed for acne rosacea and meibomitis in some patients.

The colored part of the eye that helps regulate the amount of light that enters is called the: See Answer Source: Getty Images

Can you prevent stys (styes)?

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The best prevention is to keep the eyelids and eyelashes clean. This can be done with daily diluted baby shampoo lid scrubs while in the shower or use of eyelid cleansing pads available at drug stores. Many people benefit from daily warm compresses.

A diet high in omega-3 fatty acids (for example, fish or flaxseeds) and vegetables is believed to have an anti-inflammatory effect and is associated with improvement of meibomian gland function and better eye health in general.

Ask your ophthalmologist for advice about the use of preventative antibiotics. For example, in adults with chronic recurring chalazions, low-dose oral doxycycline may help meibomian gland dysfunction, but doxycycline should be avoided in children and women of child-bearing age.

A device undergoing clinical trials that warms the lids and expresses thickened oils may also help alleviate chronically clogged oil glands.

Medically Reviewed on 10/25/2019


Ben Simon, G.J., et al. “Intralesional triamcinolone acetonide injection versus incision and curettage for primary chalazia: a prospective, randomized study.” American Journal of Ophthalmology 151.4 (2011): 714-718.

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7 Eye Stye Facts: Identify and Cure Your Stye



By Liz Segre; reviewed by Vance Thompson, MD

What is an eye stye?

A stye (also called a sty or hordeolum) is a localized infection in the eyelid that causes a tender, red bump near the edge of the lid.

There are two types of eye styes:

  1. External: An eye stye at the base of an eyelash.
  2. Internal: An eye stye within one of the small oil glands within the eyelid.

The infection is caused by bacteria and it can occur at the base of an eyelash (external hordeolum) or within one of the small oil glands within the eyelid (internal hordeolum).

What causes eye styes?

A stye is caused by staphylococcal bacteria. This bacterium is found in the nose and is transferred easily to the eye when you rub your nose, then your eye.

Bacteria can cause inflammation or infection of the eyelash follicle, oil glands that drain through ducts into the eyelashes. When the duct is clogged, oil can’t drain and backs up into the glands. The gland becomes swollen and inflamed, causing the stye.

What are signs and symptoms of eye styes?

A lump on the eyelid and swelling of the eyelid are two visible signs of an eye stye.

Symptoms of an eye stye include:

  • Pain
  • Redness
  • Swollen eyelids
  • Tenderness
  • Droopy eyelids
  • Eye discharge (crustiness around the eyelid)
  • Burning sensation

After symptoms appear, a small pimple will develop in the affected area. Usually this is accompanied by swollen eyes. Sometimes just the immediate area is swollen; at other times, the entire eyelid swells.

1. Eye styes typically don't cause vision problems.

Your ability to see well at either near or distance shouldn't be affected by a stye.

2. Styes are contagious.

If you have a stye, you don't want the bacteria within to come into contact with someone else's eye. This might cause them to develop a stye or other infection.

To avoid spreading stye-causing bacteria, keep your eyes and hands clean and don't share pillowcases, bedsheets, washcloths or towels with others.

3. Most styes heal on their own within a few days

You can speed up this process by applying hot compresses for 10 to 15 minutes, three or four times a day, over the course of several days.

This will relieve the pain and bring the stye to a head, much a pimple. In most cases, the stye will then open, drain and heal without further intervention.

Though most styes will go away with warm compresses, some need to be treated medically or drained surgically.

4. Never “pop” a stye.

You shouldn't pop a stye you would a pimple. Allow the stye to open on its own.

A stye that forms inside the eyelid (called an internal hordeolum) might not rupture and heal on its own. Because this type of stye can be more serious, your eye doctor may need to surgically open and drain it.

If you have frequent styes, your eye doctor may want to prescribe an antibiotic ointment to prevent recurrence. He or she also might recommend using pre-moistened eyelid cleaning pads for daily lid hygiene, to reduce the risk of styes and blepharitis.

5. Other eye issues can accompany styes.

With a stye, you may notice frequent watering in the affected eye, increased light sensitivity and a feeling something is “in” your eye (this symptom is called a “foreign body sensation”).

When to see an eye doctor

Although most styes clear up fairly quickly, don't hesitate to contact your eye doctor for additional advice. Your doctor might prescribe a stye ointment or other stye treatment to help the condition resolve more quickly.

If your stye worsens, affects your vision or doesn't go away within a week or so, contact your eye doctor for an in-office evaluation and treatment. In some cases, stubborn styes may require surgical treatment by your doctor, followed by application of a prescription medicine.

READ NEXT: How to get rid of an eye stye

Find an eye doctor near you.

Reviewer – Vance Thompson

Vance Thompson, MD, FACS, is the director of refractive surgery at Vance Thompson Vision in Sioux Falls, S.D. He also is professor of ophthalmology at the Sanford USD School of Medicine, … Read more