A stye is a localized infection in the eyelid that causes a tender, red bump near the edge of the lid. The infection is caused by bacteria and it can occur at the base of an eyelash or within one of the small oil glands within the eyelid.

Here are seven things to know about eye styes:

  1. The first signs are pain, redness, swelling and tenderness.
  2. Styes typically don’t cause vision problems.
  3. Styes are caused by staphylococcal bacteria.
  4. Styes are contagious.
  5. Most styes heal on their own.
  6. Never “pop” a stye.
  7. Other eye problems can accompany styes.

Here are more details about these symptoms, causes and treatments for eye styes:

  1. The first signs are pain, redness, swelling and tenderness. After symptoms appear, a small pimple will develop in the affected area. Usually this is accompanied by swollen eyes. Sometimes just the immediate area is swollen; at other times, the entire eyelid swells.
  2. Styes typically don’t cause vision problems. Your ability to see well at either near or distance shouldn’t be affected by a stye.
  3. A stye is caused by staphylococcal bacteria. This bacterium is found in the nose and is transferred easily to the eye when you rub your nose, then your eye.
  4. Styes are contagious, but…Pretty much everyone has this stye-causing bacteria in their body. We all, at any age, have the potential to develop a stye without outside contamination. Still, if you have a stye, you don’t want the bacteria within to come into contact with someone else’s eye. This might indeed cause them to develop a stye or other infection as well. So keep your eyes and hands clean, and don’t share pillowcases, bedsheets, washcloths or towels with others.
  5. Most styes heal on their own within a few days. You can encourage this process by applying hot compresses for 10 to 15 minutes, three or four times a day, over the course of several days. This will relieve the pain and bring the stye to a head, much like a pimple. In most cases, the stye will then rupture, drain and heal without further intervention.
  6. Never “pop” a stye. You shouldn’t pop a stye like you would a pimple. Allow the stye to rupture on its own. A stye that forms inside the eyelid (called an internal hordeolum) might not rupture and heal on its own. Because this type of stye can be more serious, your eye doctor may need to open and drain it. If you have frequent styes, your eye doctor may want to prescribe an antibiotic ointment to prevent a recurrence. He or she also might recommend using pre-moistened eyelid cleaning pads for daily lid hygiene, to reduce the risk of styes and blepharitis.
  7. Other eye issues can accompany styes. With a stye, you may notice frequent watering in the affected eye, increased light sensitivity and a feeling like something is in your eye (eye doctors call this a “foreign body sensation”).

Note that Chalazia: Bumps that aren’t styes. Often mistaken for a stye, a chalazion (shah-LAY-zee-on or kah-LAY-zee-on) is an enlarged, blocked oil gland in the eyelid. A chalazion mimics a stye for the first few days, then turns into a painless hard, round bump later on. Most chalazia develop farther from the eyelid edge than styes.

Although the same treatment used for a stye speeds the healing of a chalazion, the bump may linger for one to several months. If the chalazion remains after several months, your eye doctor may drain it or inject a steroid to facilitate healing.

Very important: Always make sure you discuss and make decisions about your eye care based upon a formal appointment with your optician.

For more information and to book and eye examination please contact us:

Specs Direct  |  Professional Affordable Eyewear

20 McIntyre Street, Parow, Cape Town 7500

Tel: 021 939 1020


Note: We are contracted to most medical aids