What is a stye?

A stye (hordeolum/chalazion) is a red bump, sort of like a pimple, that forms on the outside edge of the eyelid.

Your eyelids have many tiny oil glands, especially around the eyelashes. Dead skin, dirt, or oil buildup can clog or block these small holes. When a gland is blocked, bacteria can grow inside and cause a stye to develop.

What are the risk factors for developing a stye?

Styes are very common. Anyone can get a stye. However, you may be more likely to get a stye if you:

  • Have had a stye before.
  • Have blepharitis (an inflammation of the eyelids).
  • Have certain skin conditions, such as acne rosacea or dandruff (seborrheic dermatitis).
  • Have diabetes.
  • Have dry skin.
  • Are experiencing hormonal changes.
  • Have high lipid levels (“bad” cholesterol).

Symptoms of a stye include:

  • pain and swelling
  • increased tear production
  • a crust that forms around the eyelid
  • soreness and itchiness

Home treatment:

  • Apply warm, wet compresses for 5 to 10 minutes, 3 to 6 times a day. This usually helps the area heal faster. It may also help open a blocked pore so that it can drain and start to heal.
  • Use an over-the-counter treatment. Try a hypochlorous solution or medicated wipes for cleaning your eyes.
  • Let the stye or chalazion open on its own. Don’t squeeze or open it.
  • Don’t wear eye makeup or contact lenses until the area has healed.

If a stye is not getting better with home treatment, talk to your doctor. You may need a prescription for antibiotic eye ointment or eye drops. You may need to take antibiotic pills if the infection has spread to the eyelid or eye.

If a stye gets very large, the doctor may need to pierce it so it can drain and heal. Do not try to lance it yourself.

If a chalazion does not go away or if it gets worse, a doctor may recommend an injection of steroid medicine or surgery to remove it.


Always wash your hands very well before touching the skin around your eye. If you are prone to getting styes or have blepharitis, it may help to carefully clean off excess oils from the edges of your lids. To do this, use a solution of warm water or use a hypochlorous acid eyelid spray daily.


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