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eMed previously Babylon Health

Eye Styes

A stye is an infection of the glands of the eyelid, caused usually by a bacteria called Staphylococcus aureus. They usually get better without treatment but can be uncomfortable.

Styes may burst before healing and there may be more than one occurring at once, and it’s possible for one or both eyes to be affected. If your stye is extremely painful or you’re concerned your vision is affected, it’s important to see a GP for an assessment.

Stye causes

A stye is usually caused by a bacterial infection in the eyelid gland or an eyelash follicle. Styes are also often seen in people with another eye condition, such as blepharitis.

It’s not always possible to prevent a stye, however keeping your eyes and eyelids clean may help. Wash your hands before putting in contact lenses or rubbing your eyes. If you wear make-up make sure you remove it at the end of the day.

Symptoms of a stye

When a stye develops it can cause:

  • Sore, swollen, red skin around the eye
  • Pain or discomfort
  • Red, watery eyes

You should avoid wearing eye makeup or contact lenses until the stye is fully healed. Don’t attempt to burst the stye as this can make it more painful and worsen the inflammation.

Treatment for styes

Most styes will clear up on their own within a week or two and won’t require medical treatment. You can use a warm flannel on the area three or four times a day to speed up the healing process. Make sure the flannel isn’t too hot, especially if you are treating a child. However, if you have a stye that is increasing in size, or you are worried it’s not got better after this treatment, you should see a GP.

In some cases, a stye that doesn’t get better may need assessment by a specialist so do discuss your symptoms with a GP if you’re worried.

The information provided is for educational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Seek the advice of a doctor with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never delay seeking or disregard professional medical advice because of something you have read here.