Styes are extremely common eye infections that most people will experience at some point in their lifetime. While styes are can be very uncomfortable, they are not usually serious and can often be treated at home, without the help of a doctor.

Define a stye

A stye can be defined as an infection in an oil gland on the eyelid. Styes look and feel like pimples on the edge of the eyelid, and as such, can be uncomfortable and mildly painful. While they do not impact your quality of vision, styes are certainly an annoyance.

Eye stye symptoms

The following symptoms are present during the occurrence of an eye stye:

  • Redness and swelling of the eyelid
  • Pain and sensitivity
  • Watering of the eye
  • A bump, much like a pimple, either inside or outside of the eyelid

Styes are caused by bacteria and are highly contagious. Staphylococcal bacteria is easily transferred from the nose to the eye and can cause styes to form without any outside influence. Styes can also be transferred from person to person through direct contact or sharing pillows, towels, etc. It is very important to avoid sharing these items and to wash your hands often if you or someone around you has a stye.

Eye stye treatment: How to get rid of an eye stye

If you have a stye, you are likely wondering how to get rid of it. In most cases you do not need to see an eye care professional. Styes generally pop on their own in a few days and are completely cleared up in about a week. The stye will rupture and drain, much like a pimple does. Unlike a pimple, however, you should never pop an eye stye. Popping a stye can lead to it becoming even more infected or the infection spreading.

To encourage the stye to rupture more quickly, you can hold a warm compress on the eye for 10 to 15 minutes several times a day. This will provide pain relief and help the stye to come to a head more quickly. Use a clean compress each time to avoid spreading the bacteria.

While you have a stye it is helpful to avoid all eye makeup and contact lenses to allow the eye to heal without additional irritation. Using eye makeup and wearing contact lenses can spread the infection and make matters worse.

When to talk to your doctor

If you have frequently recurring styes or have a stye that just won’t go away on its own, your eye doctor can prescribe antibiotic ointment, eye drops, or pills to heal the stye. If styes are a recurring problem your doctor can also recommend an eye hygiene routine to prevent styes in the future.