Detailed close-up of a human eye with visible iris textures. Detailed close-up of a human eye with visible iris textures.

Styes In The Eye: Major Causes And 6 Effective Remedies

A bacterial infection or chronic inflammation of the entire eyelid that results in a sensitive, red lump or, say, painful red bump at the eye’s border is called Styes in the eye also known as a hordeolum. Blocked-up oil glands, bacterial infections, or microorganisms cause the infection, which can develop at the apex of the eyelashes or one of the glands inside the eyelid.

Most styes normally only affect one eye at a time, but they can affect both eyes if the first stye isn’t treated. A stye is usually a one-time incident, and after you’ve treated it, it won’t be coming back, but it can occasionally recur. You assume an eye stye might be a chalazion that occurs as an infected internal stye that has healed, or it can be acne rosacea.

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External styes appear on the outside of the eye, mainly on the upper or lower eyelid. Most external styes begin in an eyelash follicle, which is far more prevalent than internal styes. They can originate in an oil-clogged gland (sebaceous gland) on rare occasions. They can be found on the outside of your eyelid the edge of your eyelid, or near the edge.

Internal styes are a kind of stye. Most of them start in a blocked oil gland (meibomian) within your eyelid tissue (meibomian gland). Internal styes are more painful than external styes because they press on your eye as they grow.

1. Causes Of Styes In The Eye

  • Inflammation or infection of the eyelash follicle can produce styes.
  • Small oil glands exist around the edge of the eyelid and drain into the eyelashes through ducts.
  • If the duct becomes clogged, the oil is unable to drain and backs up further into glands. The stye is caused by the gland becoming enlarged and irritated.

2. Symptoms Of Styes In The Eye

What are the symptoms of a Stye? - Dr. Sunita Rana Agarwal

Styes usually only affect one eye at a time; however, they can affect both eyes simultaneously. The first signs of a stye are usually minor, such as modest pain or redness along the lash line. The afflicted eye may be inflamed as well.

Other symptoms that may appear as the stye progresses include:

  • A red protrusion that looks like a pimple on the upper eyelid, near the lashes.
  • The hump has a tiny yellow speck in the center.
  • Sensitivity to light.
  • Crustiness or ocular discharge along the upper eyelid.
  • Excessive tear output.

The symptoms of a chalazion are similar; however, the lump is firm and painless.

3. Risk Factors For Styes In The Eye

closeup red human eye detail
Image by Sarah Sever from Pixabay

Staphylococcal bacteria, a kind of bacterium that lives on your skin and is typically innocuous, is the most common cause of styes. Infection occurs when germs are transmitted to your eye and become stuck in a gland or hair follicle.

An infected stye in the eye can affect anybody; however, several variables might raise the likelihood of having one:

  • People who have previously experienced a stye or chalazion are more prone to have one in the future.
  • Some skin diseases, such as rosacea and dermatitis.
  • Some medical problems include diabetes, eyelid edema, and excessive serum lipids.
  • Applying old makeup or failing to remove eye makeup thoroughly on a routine basis.

Improper contact lens maintenance or usage is a common cause of eye infections. Improperly cleaned contacts are one of the reasons that increase your risk of a contact lens-related illness.

  •  Placing your hands on your contacts before cleaning them.
  •  Sleeping with contacts in place.
  •  Using disposable contacts over and again.
  •  Using contacts that have passed their expiration date.

If you’ve had a stye before, your chances of having another one are higher. After they’ve healed, styes might recur.

4. What Is The Duration Of A Stye?

close up human eye detail photography
Photo by Vanessa Bumbeers on Unsplash

In most situations, home therapies will clear up a stye in 3 to 5 days. After 2 to 3 days, the edema should start to subside. Even if you need to visit a doctor or take antibiotics for a more severe stye, it should disappear within a week.

If you experience recurring styes, you may be suffering from blepharitis. Adopting efforts to cure this eyelid condition as soon as possible can also assist in preventing future occurrences.

5. How Do You Keep Styes In The Eye At Bay?

You can help avoid styes by doing the following:

  • Every night, cleanse your face and wipe your makeup.
  • Each day, clean your eyes with diluted shampoos.
  • Use an over-the-counter eyelid wash.
  • Before touching your contacts, always wash your hands, disinfect, and sanitize them per the manufacturer’s guidelines.
  • Because bacteria may form on makeup, it is recommended that you replace your eye makeup every 2-3 months.
  • If your eyes are itching, don’t massage them, particularly if you haven’t cleansed your hands recently.
  • If you have a stye, don’t share towels or masks with them.
  • Practicing good hygiene.

6. Remedies For Stye In The Eye

Even though most red spots around the eyelid border are innocuous and aren’t styes, they normally heal on their own for a week or two; a stye can be bothersome. Luckily, there are a few home treatments that can help you get rid of a stye quickly or, at the very least, alleviate some of the inflammation and discomfort that a stye can cause.

6.1. Make Sure Your Lids Are Clean


If you have a stye, the first thing you should do is clean your eyelids. Apply diluted tear-free baby shampoo on a cotton swab, washcloth, or makeup removal pad. Then gently massage your eyes dry after rinsing them with warm water. You can also clean your eyelashes with a gentle saline solution. Avoid touching or giving a gentle massage to itchy eyes.

6.2. Wash Your Hands

handwashing hygiene sink water
Photo by Mélissa Jeanty on Unsplash

Hands should be washed sometimes while touching the stye and napkins; wet wipes should not be shared. Clean your hands frequently with excess water and mild soap.

6.3. Cleanse Your Eyelids Using An Eyelid Cleaning Pad

Another approach is to use pre-moistened eyelid cleaning pads. These non-prescription products are widely available at pharmacies.

6.4. Remove Your Eye Makeup

Closeup Eye with Tear Creative Photo
Photo by Victor Freitas on Unsplash

When you have a stye, it’s best to avoid applying eye makeup such as eye shadow since it might slow down the healing process. Throw away any old cosmetics or applicators that may have been contaminated.

6.5. Put Your Spectacles On

black eyeglasses closeup unsplash
Photo by Redowan Dhrubo on Unsplash

Until the stye cures, wear glasses instead of contact lenses. Wear contact lenses with a clean finger only after the cure of styes in the eye; otherwise, it will irritate the painful bump.

6.6. Warm Compresses Should Be used

Warm compresses should be used 3 – 4 times a day for 10 to 15 minutes around the affected area. This can help the painful lump and swelling heal faster. You can use a warm washcloth for better results.

7. Treatment For Styes In The Eye

How to Treat a Stye like a Dermatologist | Doctorly Explains

There are various treatment options for styes in the eye. The most conservative therapy is to use warm (but not too hot) compresses regularly. A moist warm towel or clean washcloth, microwave-safe eye masks, or a plug-in electrically heated pad can all help with this. The goal is to devote as much effort as feasible to warm compression therapy.

The chances of the stye or chalazion clearing on its own will enhance if you do it numerous times a day for a few minutes at a time. A youngster may require assistance in administering the warm compress. To ensure that the compress doesn’t burn your eye or face, check the warmth of the compress against another area of your skin, such as the back of your hand.

An ophthalmologist can insert a steroid injection inside the area, which can accelerate the healing process. Nevertheless, there is a slight risk of spurting blood, skin depigmentation/thinning, scarring, discomfort, and, in exceptional instances, vision problems.

The chalazion can then be washed and incised. Most eye physicians reserve this procedure as a last resort since it is the most intrusive. A clamp is inserted all around the chalazion, and the whole eyelid is anesthetized with local anesthesia. The meibomian gland is a slit or small incision from the rear side of the eyelid, minimizing cutting the tissue on the front. A specific curette is used to remove the waxy sebum from the gland.

8. What Kinds Of Professionals Deal With Styes In The Eye?

eye exam vision test clinic
Photo by CDC on Unsplash

Eye disorders are frequently diagnosed and treated by healthcare experts, such as pediatricians and emergency medical treatment. More severe instances, such as stye that seem infected or reoccur, are treated by eye experts such as optometrists and ophthalmologists.

9. Tests Are Used To Diagnose Styes In The Eye

Styes in the eye
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The healthcare provider will look at the lids to see where the clogged oil gland entrance is. This makes it easier to tell the difference between a hordeolum and a chalazion. Scar tissue, foreign substances, and associated with chronic meibomitis will all be looked for by the specialist.

Additionally, the doctor will examine the gland for any symptoms of infection. It’s especially crucial to spot an infection that’s migrated from the glands toward the eye, nearby skin, or the orbit.

10 Conclusion

A stye in the eye, also known as a hordeolum, is a common and generally harmless eye condition. It typically appears as a painful, red, and swollen bump near the eyelid’s edge, either on the outside (external stye) or inside (internal stye). Styes are primarily caused by bacterial infection, often involving Staphylococcus bacteria.

Styes typically occur when hair follicles or oil glands on the eyelid become blocked and infected by bacteria. Poor eyelid hygiene, makeup contamination, or sharing infected items can increase the risk of stye formation.

Most styes can resolve on their own within a few days to a week. Warm compresses applied to the affected area can help promote drainage and relieve discomfort. Avoid squeezing or popping the stye, as this can worsen the infection. In some cases, a doctor may prescribe antibiotics or perform a minor procedure to drain the stye.

Styes are a common eye condition caused by bacterial infection of the eyelid. They are typically treatable with home remedies like warm compresses and good eyelid hygiene. If a stye persists, becomes extremely painful, or leads to vision problems, it’s important to consult a healthcare professional for appropriate evaluation and treatment.


1. Can styes be contagious?

A. Styes themselves are not highly contagious. However, the bacteria that cause styes can be spread through contact with infected eye secretions or contaminated items. It’s advisable to avoid sharing makeup and personal eye care items.

2. Can I wear contact lenses if I have a stye?

A. It’s generally advisable to avoid wearing contact lenses while you have a stye, as they can trap bacteria and hinder the healing process. Switch to glasses until the stye has healed.

3. Are there complications associated with styes?

A. While styes are usually harmless and self-limiting, in rare cases, they can lead to more severe conditions, such as cellulitis or a chalazion (a painless, hard lump on the eyelid). Seek medical attention if you experience worsening symptoms or vision problems.

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