What are Styes?

When a bump appears on the upper or lower eyelid, it may be a stye. It usually looks like a pimple and it occurs due to the oil glands that at located around the eyelids. Mostly, a stye is a red and painful bump that is filled with pus. In most cases, it goes away itself within several days. It means without treatment. However, it can require treatment in case it happens due to an infection.

What is The Difference Between Chalazion and Stye?

These both are types of eyelid bumps. A chalazion is a little different from a stye because it appears on the underside of the upper eyelid. However, it appears in the lower eyelid too. The blocked oil glands in the eyelid usually provoke chalazia (this word is the plural form of chalazion). Moreover, the chalazia are not painful compared to styes but they last longer (often from weeks to months).

Is There a Difference Between a Stye and Pink Eye?

Yes, pink eye (conjunctivitis) is an inflammation of the membrane of the inner eyelid lining. The primary pink eye symptom is redness of the whites of the eye. Other symptoms include swelling, crusty eyelids, and others. Conjunctivitis can occur due to bacterial infection but mostly it is provoked by viruses. Furthermore, this condition is contagious, unlike styes.

Styes Types

  • External – It is the most common styes type and it appears on the outer edge of the eyelid (near the lashes). The main cause of external styes is infection of the oil glands.
  • Internal – It occurs outside the eyelid and is provoked by an infection of the oil glands that keep the eyelids moist.


The primary symptoms of styes are a small lump outside the eyelash and a bump inside the eyelid. However, people may also notice other symptoms. For example:

  • Scratchy and itchy eye
  • Crustiness of the eyelid
  • Eye discharge
  • Eyelid swelling
  • Watery or teary eyes
  • Sensitivity to light
  • A feeling that something is in the eye

Styes usually disappear on their own in a few days. In any case, if a stye lasts longer than 3-4 days it is advised to see a doctor.


In most cases, styes are caused by a bacteria known as staphylococcus. In the human body lives billions of bacteria that usually do not cause any health problems. However, when an increased amount of bacteria grows, you may get an infection.

People can carry the bacteria by touching or rubbing the eye with their hands. In other cases, leaving makeup during the night also can provoke an infection.

Is There a Link Between Stress and Styes?

Stress can indirectly provoke a stye because a person is more prone to get an infection during stressful experiences.

In addition, styes commonly do not pass from person to person. It means styes are not contagious. In any case, if you touch the infected eye and do not wash your hands, it can spread around.

Risk Factors

  • Inflamed eyelids (blepharitis)
  • Skin problems (including rosacea, dandruff, acne, or dryness)
  • Diabetes
  • Hormonal changes
  • Increased cholesterol levels in the blood
  • Certain habits that could elevate your risk of getting an infection (such as touching your eyes without washing your hands, leaving makeup during sleep, or using old cosmetic products).


Commonly, a physical examination is enough to diagnose this condition. Doctors can also use a light and magnifying glass to verify your eyelids more carefully.


Some people are tempted to pop a stye because it usually looks like a pimple. In any case, you should not do this because the infection may spread to other eye’s parts. Mostly, the best way to get rid of a stye is warm compresses. For instance, hold a warm, damp, and clean washcloth on the eyelid for roughly 10-15 minutes. Repeat this warm compress 3-5 times per day. These compresses help with chalazia and can unclog, soften, and drain a stye. In case the regular treatment does not work, you should visit a doctor. Check below for other treatment methods:

  • Stye Drainage – This treatment option involves a small cut done to drain the pus. It is usually performed by a doctor, do not try to do this procedure alone at home.
  • Stye Medicine – Physicians can prescribe you a topical antibiotic that can help treat a stye in a few days. In case you have had a drainage procedure, they can prescribe oral antibiotics. Rarely, doctors can give you an injection that contains steroid medicine to lessen eyelid swelling.
  • Stye Eye Drops – These are also prescribed medications that also contain antibiotics.

Home Remedies

The following remedies can be used at home along with warm compresses. For example:

  • Green tea compress – This is another effective stye treatment option that can be used along with a warm compress or instead. As per studies, certain natural substances found in green tea break down bacteria. In other words, it is considered a natural antibiotic.
  • Eyelid cleaners – If you experience styes, you can also use a cleaning pad and wipe the eye. Furthermore, you can prepare the solution at home using half-baby shampoo and half water. Additionally, you should avoid makeup and contact lenses during treatment. Otherwise, it may worsen or return.

How to Prevent Styes?

The following tips can help you to prevent or avoid a stye. For example:

  • Wash regularly your hands using soap and water or hand sanitizer that contains alcohol.
  • Do not touch or rub the eyes.
  • Remove the makeup during nighttime. It is also recommended to check the makeup products and not use them after their shelf life.
  • Manage existing eye conditions such as blepharitis.

Discuss with your healthcare professional for more details.

Frequently Asked Questions

What causes a stye?

Usually, styes are provoked by a blockage of the oil glands located around the eyelids. Therefore, a blockage allows the bacteria to begin the growth inside the gland.

What is the best medication used in the styes treatment?

The most commonly prescribed by doctors to treat a stye is erythromycin ophthalmic ointment. It helps to stop the bacteria growth and kill them. Never use this medicine without a doctor’s recommendation because it may lead to unpleasant side effects.

What happens if styes are not treated?

Mostly, people who do not treat a stye experience chalazia. Hence, they require proper treatment. If you have any other questions, ask your healthcare professional.

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