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What is a stye?

A stye (hordeolum) is a tender red bump on the edge of your eyelid.

What causes a stye?

A stye happens when a gland on the edge of your eyelid gets infected. When it occurs inside or under the eyelid, it's called an internal hordeolum.

The infection is most often caused by a bacteria or germ called staph (Staphylococcus aureus).

Who is at risk for a stye?

You are more likely to get a stye if you:

  • Have had one before

  • Wear contact lenses

  • Are not keeping your eye area clean

  • Use eye makeup that is old or contaminated

  • Have other eye conditions, such as an inflamed or infected eyelid (blepharitis)

  • Have other conditions, such as rosacea, seborrheic dermatitis, or diabetes

What are the symptoms of a stye?

Each person’s symptoms may vary. Symptoms may include:

  • Eyelid swelling, redness, pain, or soreness

  • Feeling like there is something in your eye

  • Being bothered by bright light

  • Eye tearing and crusting

The symptoms of a stye may look like other health problems. Always see your healthcare provider to be sure.

How is a stye diagnosed?

In most cases, your healthcare provider will be able to tell that you have a stye by looking at it.

You will usually not need to take any tests.

How is a stye treated?

In most cases, a stye will go away on its own.

There are some things you can do to treat the stye at home. These include:

  • Putting a warm, wet cloth (compress) on your eyelid for 5 to 10 minutes. This should be done 3 to 5 times a day.

  • Washing your hands often

  • Washing your face daily, including the eye area

  • Not touching the area

  • Not squeezing the stye

  • Not wearing makeup until the infection heals

Your healthcare provider may also:

  • Give you special bacteria-fighting (antibiotic) creams or ointments to put on the area. Only certain ones are safe to use near your eyes.

  • Refer you to an eye specialist (ophthalmologist) if the stye does not go away.

What can I do to prevent a stye?

To prevent a stye, you should:

  • Wash your hands often

  • Wash your face and eye area

  • Be careful when using and removing eye makeup

When should I call my healthcare provider?

Call your healthcare provider if you:

  • Notice redness or swelling of your eyelid

  • Have pain in your eyelid

  • Feel like something is in your eye

Key points about styes

  • A stye (hordeolum) is a tender red bump on the edge of the eyelid.

  • It's an infection of a gland of the eyelid.

  • The infection is most often caused by bacteria called staph (Staphylococcus aureus).

  • The most common symptoms are redness and swelling of the eyelid.

  • In most cases, a stye will go away on its own.

Next steps

Tips to help you get the most from a visit to your healthcare provider:

Know the reason for your visit and what you want to happen.

  • Before your visit, write down questions you want answered.

  • Bring someone with you to help you ask questions and remember what your provider tells you.

  • At the visit, write down the name of a new diagnosis, and any new medicines, treatments, or tests. Also write down any new instructions your provider gives you.

  • Know why a new medicine or treatment is prescribed, and how it will help you. Also know what the side effects are.

  • Ask if your condition can be treated in other ways.

  • Know why a test or procedure is recommended and what the results could mean.

  • Know what to expect if you do not take the medicine or have the test or procedure.

  • If you have a follow-up appointment, write down the date, time, and purpose for that visit.

  • Know how you can contact your provider if you have questions, especially after office hours or on weekends.

Online Medical Reviewer: Heather M Trevino BSN RNC
Online Medical Reviewer: Marianne Fraser MSN RN
Online Medical Reviewer: Rajadurai Samnishanth
Date Last Reviewed: 2/1/2024
© 2000-2024 The StayWell Company, LLC. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.
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