Eye conditions & symptoms 2 min read

What is a Stye & How to Treat It

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There are a number of minor and common eye conditions that you should be aware of so that if you encounter one, you’ll know the best course of action. A stye in particular is very common, and most people will have 1 or 2 in their lifetime. While they usually clear up on their own, it can be helpful to know what it is, what caused it and how you can treat it, as well as preventing a future stye from occurring.

What is a stye?

A stye will look like a small and sometimes red lump on your eyelid, and it can occur either on the top or bottom eyelid. It can also appear on the outside or inside of your lid. A stye on the inside of your eyelid can sometimes be more serious, as it may not always heal on its own.

Typically styes will heal on their own, but they can last up to 1 or 2 weeks. It might be painful until it heals. If there’s no lump, it’s probably not a style and could be something else, such as conjunctivitis or blepharitis. If the lump is hard but not painful, it’s more likely to be a chalazion. This is where the oil gland around your eye becomes blocked.

Your optician will be able to diagnose a stye on sight. If your stye isn’t getting any better after a few day, if it gets bigger or it starts to affect your vision, you should visit your local optician to check your eye health. 


What causes a stye?

A stye is usually caused by bacteria infecting an eyelash follicle or eyelid gland. The bacteria can cause inflammation and infection, which results in the oil glands being unable to drain probably. In a lot of cases, styes are caused by touching or rubbing your eyes too much, which can increase your risk of passing bacteria to your eye.

If you have used contaminated eye makeup or don’t remove your makeup properly, this could also cause a stye due to increased risk of exposure to bacteria,

illustration of stye


Can you treat a stye?

There are some things you can do to help the stye heal. You can reduce the swelling by soaking a flannel in warm water and holding it to your eye for 5-10 minutes. This may also encourage the stye to heal quicker.

You should try to avoid wearing contact lenses and eye makeup until the stye has healed. Never try to burst a stye yourself, as this might cause the infection to spread. Your GP may burst the stye with a sterilised needle and remove the eyelash closest to the stye, if it’s not healing on its own.


Can you prevent a stye?

The best way to prevent a stye from happening is to keep your eye area as clean as possible. Make sure you remove eye makeup before bed and replace your eye makeup frequently to avoid a build-up of bacteria. 

Try to avoid rubbing your eyes if you have not recently washed your hands, and don’t put contact lenses in until you are sure your hands are clean.


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