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eMed previously Babylon Health

Eye Stye

Reviewed by Dr Keith Grimes, 29th July 2019

Styes are painful inflammation or infections on the eyelid. Some styes are right on the margin of the eyelid, in amongst the eyelashes and others occur on the underside of the eyelid.


Causes include infections of the eyelash follicle or meibomian glands (oil forming glands that contribute to the formation of tears).

Risk factors

  • Blepharitis (red and swollen edges of the eyelids)
  • Acne rosacea
  • Ingrowing eyelashes
  • Ectropion (out turned and drooping lower eyelid)

Typical Symptoms

  • Painful eyelid
  • Usually only one eye is affected
  • Swelling of the eyelid/at the eyelash margin

Common Treatment

Styes usually self resolve within around 7 days. It might help to:

  • Avoid using makeup on the eye
  • Apply a warm compress to the eye a few times a day

How to make a warm compress

  1. Take a clean cloth / small towel
  2. Soak it in warm water
  3. Place it gently on your closed eye
  4. Re-soak it in warm water and re-apply

If you also have an eye infection, your GP might prescribe antibiotic eye drops.

When to speak to a doctor

It is important to speak to a doctor if you are:

  • Having any problems with your vision (styes do not usually affect vision)
  • You have severe eye pain or eyelid swelling
  • You develop a fever
  • The stye isn’t improving despite warm compresses

Styes can often be diagnosed via a digital consultation. If the GP decides you need a face to face appointment, they will discuss what steps you can take next.

To speak to one of our GPs, download the app and create an account today.


Styes can’t always be prevented, but their incidence might be reduced if you:

  • Always wash your hands before touching your eyes
  • Remove eye makeup before going to sleep
  • Don’t share towels and eye makeup with someone that has a stye

More information


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.