Definition

What is a sty?

A sty is a red, painful lump near the edge of your eyelid that may look like a boil or a pimple. Sties are often filled with pus. A sty usually forms on the outside of your eyelid. But sometimes it can form on the inner part of your eyelid.

How common are sties?

Sties are common with most people experiencing one or two of them at some stage in their life. Please discuss with your doctor for further information.

Symptoms

What are the symptoms of a sty?

The common symptoms of a sty are:

  • A red lump on your eyelid that is similar to a boil or a pimple
  • Eyelid pain
  • Eyelid swelling
  • Tearing

Another condition that causes inflammation of the eyelid is a chalazion. A chalazion occurs when there’s a blockage in one of the small oil glands at the margin of the eyelid, just behind the eyelashes. Unlike a sty, a chalazion usually isn’t painful and tends to be most prominent on the inner side of the eyelid. Treatment for both conditions is similar.

There may be some symptoms not listed above. If you have any concerns about a symptom, please consult your doctor.

When should I see my doctor?

You should contact your doctor if you have any of the following:

  • The sty doesn’t start to improve after 48 hours
  • Redness and swelling extend beyond your eyelid and involve your cheek or other parts of your face

Causes

What causes sties?

Usually it’s a combination of a clogged oil gland and a certain type of bacteria. Your body is coated with billions of friendly bacteria that live right along with you. Most of the time there’s no problem. But when conditions are right, the bacteria overproduce and create a pimple.

Risk factors

What increases my risk for sties?

There are many risk factors for sties, such as:

  • Touch your eyes with unwashed hands
  • Insert your contact lenses without thoroughly disinfecting them or washing your hands first
  • Leave on eye makeup overnight
  • Use old or expired cosmetics
  • Have blepharitis, a chronic inflammation along the edge of the eyelid
  • Have rosacea, a skin condition characterized by facial redness

Diagnosis & treatment

The information provided is not a substitute for any medical advice. ALWAYS consult with your doctor for more information.

How is a sty diagnosed?

Your doctor will usually diagnose a sty just by looking at your eyelid. Your doctor may use a light and a magnifying device to examine your eyelid.

How is a sty treated?

In most cases, a sty doesn’t require specific treatment. A sty typically goes away on its own. Recurrences are common.

For a sty that persists, your doctor may recommend treatments, such as:

  • Your doctor may prescribe antibiotic eyedrops or a topical antibiotic cream to apply to your eyelid. If your eyelid infection persists or spreads beyond your eyelid, your doctor may recommend antibiotics in tablet or pill form.
  • Surgery to relieve pressure. If your sty doesn’t clear up, your doctor may make a small cut in it to drain the pus. This helps speed healing and relieve the pain and swelling.

Lifestyle changes & home remedies

What are some lifestyle changes or home remedies that can help me manage sties?

The following lifestyles and home remedies might help you cope with sties:

  • Leave the sty alone. Don’t try to pop the sty or squeeze the pus from a sty. Doing so can cause the infection to spread.
  • Clean your eyelid. Gently wash the affected eyelid with mild soap and water.
  • Place a warm washcloth over your closed eye. To relieve pain, run warm water over a clean washcloth. Wring out the washcloth and place it over your closed eye. Re-wet the washcloth when it loses heat. Continue this for 5 to 10 minutes. Then gently massage the eyelid. Repeating this two to three times a day may encourage the sty to drain on its own.
  • Keep your eye clean. Don’t wear eye makeup until the sty has healed.
  • Go without contacts lenses. Contact lenses can be contaminated with bacteria associated with a sty. If you wear contacts, try to go without them until your sty goes away.

If you have any questions, please consult with your doctor to better understand the best solution for you.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Sources

Review Date: August 4, 2017 | Last Modified: August 4, 2017

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