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What Causes Styes?

By Garry Crystal
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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Styes are caused by Staphylococcal bacteria. This type of bacteria can usually be found in the nasal passages and is easily passed to the eye. Staphylococcal is passed by rubbing the nose and then touching the eye area. The gland situated at the end of eyelid may then become infected.

Styes are not detrimental to the eyes or to eyesight. Pain will occur, followed by a swelling or redness. The eye area will also be tender to the touch. Some sufferers find that the whole eye area becomes swollen, while for others, only the infected area swells. The eye may also tend to water and become blurry.

The infection itself appears as small spot or pimple. The Staphylococcal bacteria causes a pus-filled abscess. Styes usually disappear within a few days. The infection will dissipate and the pimple will disappear, or sometimes the pimple will burst.

There is a simple procedure to help with the reduction of the swelling. Apply a hot cloth to the area for about 10 to 15 minutes. By doing this about four times a day, you can ease the discomfort and bring out a head. Styes are much like pimples in that they can pop when this type of pressure is applied. The pus will drain away and the stye should disappear.

Do not be tempted to pop a stye as you would a pimple. The application of hot compresses is only intended to aid the dissipation. There are also antibiotic creams that can be administered by a doctor. These are useful if the issue is a frequent occurrence.

Another eye bump that is commonly mistaken for a stye is a chalazion. This small bump will appear on the eyelid due to blocked oil glands. The chalazion has the same characteristics as the stye, but appears as a hard round pimple on the eyelid. Chalazions can last for a few months, but they are harmless.

Styes are normally harmless, but if they are frequent and do not disappear, then an eye doctor should be consulted. The infected area may need to be opened and drained. Although not too serious, this procedure should only be performed by a qualified eye doctor.

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Discussion Comments

By anon994007 — On Jan 05, 2016

I have the same problem as anon151178. I went to the minute clinic in CVS Pharmacy and I was prescribed a stye ointment which I have to apply to the rim of my eyelid every day, four times a day.

By anon987340 — On Feb 02, 2015

I had a real problem with styes for years. I've tried creams, ointments, tea bags, the lot -- to try and stop them. Someone recommended using a facial sauna machine. It took about two weeks using it every day for two weeks until both styes popped. Two other styes receded and disappeared. It was fantastic.

By anon953464 — On May 27, 2014

I haven't had a stye for a long time (since last year I think) and this morning I noticed that it was tender. I was like, "Oh boy!" I hate them. Time to do my hot washcloth trick. I never heard of a gold ring helping that; that is different.

I just buy over the counter medicines and they work. No need to spend money at the doctor. Doctors only want money and they really don't care about your health. I know. trust me.

By anon331071 — On Apr 20, 2013

Gold rings have nothing to do with styes, and alcohol should never be used around the eye. Stick to warm compresses and see your eye care professional!

By anon328803 — On Apr 05, 2013

I got my first stye when I was 13 years old. I was scared at first, but it went very quick. I have had styes throughout the years now and nothing has changed. Just as soon as it starts, it's over.

Someone once told me I could practice on my own, so when I did have the stye, I could enjoy it more while it lasted. This didn't really work until one day I figured out what was going to make my time with a stye more enjoyable than I could have ever imagined. It took me waiting until the next one came, then I did the most amazing thing I have ever done to this day.

You know that muscle that you use to squeeze off the stye? Well, I waited until the perfect time and squeezed with all my willpower. You would have never guessed, but it worked. The sty went away and I was able to go for as long as I wanted without one after that.

By anon249987 — On Feb 23, 2012

Styes aren't contagious!

By anon210526 — On Aug 30, 2011

Styes are the worst things ever. I get them all the time! The only quick thing I have found is a *hot* lipton tea bag. Hold it under the hottest water your faucet can produce, wring out the water and hold it to your eye until it gets cold. Do this twice in one day and it will be gone the next day when you wake up! I promise! This is amazing. I love it.

By anon201485 — On Jul 30, 2011

My problem is same as "anon162235 of Post 35". I am getting styes one after another for about the last two months. Can anybody help me please.

By anon175243 — On May 12, 2011

If you have a runny nose and you have longer hair that you tend to push behind your ear or move out of your face, this can cause your eye to have such styes because your hair is touched with your fingers and then touched to your eye.

By anon163855 — On Mar 29, 2011

how come this happens? is it contagious? people, find a proper cure! My sister died from a stye. i hope it never happens to you guys. she was eight. hope you never get the pain.

By anon162235 — On Mar 22, 2011

I hate, hate hate styes! They are very painful! I've been getting them continuously for like the past two months now. They make me not even want to go out into public. Before, I never got them and this year just they won't stop! Some of mine get so bad I can't open my eye. I'll try some of the stuff the other posts said. Thanks.

By anon158447 — On Mar 07, 2011

A warm tea bag will help get the swelling and the pain down! Works every time for me!

By anon152951 — On Feb 15, 2011

I just got my first stye and it hurts really bad. I don't know how I got it because I wash my hands like every minute I can, but anyway, I've had it for like three weeks now and it seems that it gets a little bigger every day.

By anon151178 — On Feb 09, 2011

I'm 12 years old, and I just got my first stye. It doesn't hurt that much, but my eye is beginning to swell. I have a growing suspicion that when I got hit in the eye, it began to swell, but I don't know how I got the stye. I've read a lot that you have to put a warm towel on your eye about three to four times a day, or rub a gold ring on it. I guess I'll try both!

By anon149447 — On Feb 04, 2011

Styes hurt! I can't even blink without pain! It makes me wish you could replace that part of your eye like batteries. The last time I had a stye I was too little to remember and so in a way, this is my first time dealing with this and it bugs me so much! I feel itchy, gross and in pain.

By anon130896 — On Nov 30, 2010

Styes stink! They hurt like a SOB!

By anon127060 — On Nov 15, 2010

I'm always having a sty. For the last six months i have had it, then two months ago another again, and the same way now, completely swollen all over my right eye and i couldn't see anything. It's at its very worst when i got this kind of problem. i really don't know where i get this. my doctor said to put a hard egg on it then massage it to get the swelling down but nothing happens. I have it now. it's just like a cyst on it.

By anon124515 — On Nov 06, 2010

I had a stye just last week and I don't remember ever having these when I was younger. so, for some women I think it just might be make up because I've just really started wearing it and all of a sudden I got one and just a few minutes ago I noticed I felt a new one. but last week I put alcohol on it for two days and it went away.

By anon117543 — On Oct 11, 2010

In response to post 24, as a child and teenager, I was plagued by styes sometimes two to five at a time. Cold tea bags were a great help. They acted as a poultice and seemed to draw the pus faster. the only drawback is the staining but that's a small inconvenience. ML

By Michelle Trunfio — On Sep 15, 2010

I have a huge stye under my left eye which is swollen completely under my eye. is there any home remedy that will help? My mother told me to boil a tea bag in water and then drain the tea bag and the apply to my eye. Does anyone know if this is an old wives tale? and is it one that will work?

By anon110134 — On Sep 10, 2010

I have a stye in the left corner of my eye. it doesn't hurt that bad unless i rub it and it's red and swollen a little bit. i am trying to put hot compresses on it and so far i have had it for a week and it's not going away. My friend told me it was either from not getting enough sleep or old makeup. Are those ways you can get a stye?

By anon103019 — On Aug 10, 2010

i had a stye since last Christmas. how do i get rid of it?

By anon95692 — On Jul 13, 2010

I had a stye eight months back which had to be operated on, but I got one a week earlier which has spread to both the eyes. Now my ophthalmologist has suggested some blood test wherein he recommended sugar and other levels. But he doubts the major culprit is the dandruff. The reason must be the hard water here in Sangli-Maharashtra-India which caused the dandruff, ultimately leading to this styes said the water treatment guy. Pitaliya.

By anon93309 — On Jul 03, 2010

Its an old wives tale, but I swear it always worked for me. As a child my mum would take off her wedding ring and gently rub it on the stye. My four year old daughter has one this morning and I've just done exactly the same.

By anon87399 — On May 30, 2010

I don't know what I should do about this one but i have a sty not on my eyelid but underneath it. If I do put a hot washcloth on it about four times a day will it still burst? I don't think it would since it's underneath my eyelid. Like a week ago I had another one under my eyelid but it didn't burst. I am just curious.

By anon87398 — On May 30, 2010

OK so about a week ago i had a sty. I thought it went away, but not fully, and i just got another one yesterday. I asked a friend about it and they said that you can get styes from not washing make-up off, but the thing is I haven't been wearing make-up for awhile now because in the past eight months I've had about five or six styes.

I don't think that is good, but my nose has also been runny and I'm always blowing my nose then itching my eye, but then again I haven't had a runny nose for eight months. I just don't know what to do. If anyone could give me some ideas as to what i should do, that would be great. Thanks.

By anon78193 — On Apr 17, 2010

Doses of Vitamin 10,000 i.u. two times a day will get rid of the stye. I had one and the doctor gave me meds that just did not help. I got another one a month later and found that lack of vitamin A can cause a stye. So I took the vitamin A and it was gone in two days! I have never had another stye. I take Vitamin A daily.

By anon74746 — On Apr 03, 2010

A homeopathic treatment which was passed down from my great-grandmother is to rub the stye area with a gold ring as often as you like. It feels really good while being rubbed and the stye does not actually form if caught early.~ anon

By c77777777r — On Mar 22, 2010

wow i just got this. i had it before like about a year ago but this is worse than last time. it's really swollen on the eye lid and it's in the crease of where people cry from, like right in that spot but on the eyelid.

So anyway, it is really itchy and it hurts when i scratch it so it bothers me a lot but it hurts for every little thing i do. If i blink hard it hurts. if i look up it hurts; look to the side it hurts. But yeah, I'm just worried because it's not getting better.

By anon70918 — On Mar 16, 2010

if the bump disappears but your eye is still sore, what does that mean?

By anon69262 — On Mar 07, 2010

anon1102, yeah my pharmacist said I had an inverted style - mine's on the eyelid. will try a hot compress later - hope it works. also I was given Propamidine Isethionate (Brolene) eye-drops.

By anon63794 — On Feb 03, 2010

The size or shape of an individual's gland can make them more likely to get styes. Those who do get styes tend to get them more often similar to how some people are more prone to getting UTI's.

By anon63649 — On Feb 02, 2010

I had the same problem. I went to a pharmacy and they recommend on the market to try (Stye) sterile lubricant eye ointment along with applying a hot towel. Within 24 hours the stye was gone. See your local pharmacy for instruction. they may have medicine on the shelf that you can take.

By anon60851 — On Jan 16, 2010

I have a stye in my right eye in the corner and it feels like there is a piece of metal in my eye. i pulled my eyelid up and there was a red bump in the corner of my eye. It really hurts and I've been putting hot compresses on it like my eye doctor said to, but it keeps coming back and i don't know what to do. It literally feels like it's scratching my eye, and it really hurts.

By anon60797 — On Jan 16, 2010

this helped a lot. thanks

By anon57890 — On Dec 28, 2009

I got my first sty yesterday and I still have it. :(

By anon54519 — On Nov 30, 2009

i have gotten a sty many times and up to this day i never knew why i was getting it!

By anon23486 — On Dec 26, 2008

is the stye contagious?

By elfi64 — On Jun 17, 2008

Styes are contagious, so if you have a stye wash your hands often, so as not to spread the infection.

By anon1102 — On May 15, 2007

Is there any different kinds of styes? Like one that goes around the top of the eyelid?

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