When a stye forms on your eyelid, it can cause pain, swelling, and other uncomfortable symptoms.
While styes are annoying, they are harmless and typically clear up on their own within a few days.
How do I know if I have a stye?
Styes Are Typically Accompanied by Swelling and Discomfort
A Lump on the Eyelid
Typically, a stye appears as a lump on the top or bottom eyelid near the lashes. Similar in shape to a pimple, they can be red, white, or yellowish.
Localized swelling on the eyelid is a common symptom of a stye. The swollen lid may be tender or interfere with vision.
Pain and Redness
A stye may make your eye red and uncomfortable. Pain, burning, or a scratchy sensation on the eyeball are all typical. Often, patients feel as if they have something stuck in their eyes.
"So many wonderful things to say about the staff and my experiences with the Wicker Park Eye Center. I had a pretty serious eye infection onset very quickly. Found myself bouncing between emergency rooms and doctors scratching their heads. Within just a couple days, what started out as a little redness ended up evolving into a growing irritation. Maybe just an eye lash under the hood, maybe a small inconvenient scratch. Then I swelled up like a bee planted a stinger in my eyelid. A slow but constant stream of reddish puss began draining down my face. Lost the ability to open the right eye completely, and to see anything except vague blurry colors, if I gingerly and painfully pried the eye to status. Started to feel like other eye was beginning to develop similar symptoms. I was in pain. It was scary and dark. Then I scheduled an appointment with Dr. Shah and it changed the course of everything. The staff was gentle and their bedside manor genuine. They were calm, caring, and confident professionals. After a couple days of antibiotics and steroids, Dr. Shaw had me pain free and counting my blessings. It took a couple treatments, but I can see smiling faces again. My own included. I couldn’t be happier. Thank you Wicker Park Eye Center. You are making a difference. You are why people want to go into medical care to truly help others."- S.L. / Yelp / Mar 10, 2022
"Been seeing Dr. Tepper for a decade. I have glaucoma in both eyes. Highly recommended!"- Anonymous / Healthgrades / Mar 18, 2022
Stress, Medical Issues, and Other Factors
A range of factors can increase the risk of a stye forming, including:
- Poor eyelid hygiene
- Improper removal of eye makeup
- Contaminated or old cosmetics
- Inserting contact lenses with dirty hands
- Inflammatory disease, such as blepharitis
Hormonal changes can also raise the risk of developing a stye.
Block and Infected Glands
When bacteria from your skin is transferred into the glands on your eyelids, it can cause an infection resulting in a stye.
In some cases, the glands in or on the eyelids become plugged. Any foreign substance, such as scar tissue, makeup, or dust, can block the glands and cause a stye to form.
Taking Care of Your Eyes Can Minimize Your Risk For Styes
Avoid Touching Your Eyes
Keeping your hands away from your eyes can go a long way toward preventing styes. If you do have to touch your eye, make sure to wash your hands first with soap and warm water.
Be Careful with Cosmetics
Throwing away old cosmetics and taking your makeup off before bed are two good methods of maintaining the health of your eyelids. You should also avoid sharing cosmetics with others.
Keep Your Lenses Clean
If you wear contact lenses, wash your hands thoroughly before inserting them and follow disinfection instructions carefully.
Styes Are Easy to Identify
Usually, a doctor can diagnose a stye simply by looking at your eyelid. They may use a slit lamp to examine your eye as well.
A slit lamp can help your doctor rule out other conditions. Typically, doctors also ask about injuries and previous eye issues or surgeries to get a sense of your medical history. Explaining your eyelid and facial hygiene habits can also help with diagnosis.
Most Styes Go Away on Their Own
In many cases, leaving the stye alone for several days is all the treatment required. Your doctor may advise you to clean your eyelid or stop wearing contact lenses during this time to help it heal.
Placing a warm washcloth over the affected eye can help relieve inflammation so your stye heals more quickly. You can apply the compress for about 5 – 10 minutes 2 – 3 times a day.
If your stye does not heal on its own, your doctor may prescribe an antibiotic eye drop, cream, or tablet to clear the infection.
For persistent styes, your doctor may make a small incision to drain the pus. This minor procedure can expedite healing and relieve pain and swelling.
How does my eyelid become infected?
95% of styes are caused by a bacteria known as Staphylococcus aureus.
Most styles are the result of a staph infection. These infections are caused by bacteria often found in the nose, respiratory tract, or skin.
Most Styes are Harmless But Have Lingering Styes Checked Out
In general, styes are not serious and will clear up within a few days. If your stye does not start to improve after 48 hours, contact a doctor. You should also visit an ophthalmologist if redness and swelling begin to spread beyond your eyelid.
Is surgery necessary for stye removal?
No, surgery is not typically necessary to remove a stye. Self-care treatments like warm compresses and antibiotics can usually suffice. If a stye persists or is causing problems, surgery may be required to drain the pus. These procedures are generally very safe and effective.
Can styes spread from one eye to the other?
Styes are unlikely to spread from one eye to the other. However, Wickerpark Eye Center recommends taking steps to prevent the infection from spreading. Be sure to wash your hands before touching your eyes and avoid sharing items like cosmetics, contact lenses, and towels.
Can I wear makeup while I have a stye?
It's not recommended that you wear makeup when you have a stye. Makeup can irritate the area and potentially spread the infection. We advise that you wait until the stye has healed before application. Remember to clean your brushes and throw away any expired cosmetics.