An eye pimple is a pus-filled bump that commonly occurs on the rim of the eyelid due to bacteria that has mixed with excess oil from an eyelash follicle. A stye is another term for an eye pimple, and this kind of eye infection typically results from staphylococcal bacteria that have been transferred via rubbing the eye with unwashed hands. In some cases, a stye can also form on the inside of the eyelid. While an outer eyelid bump can be uncomfortable and visibly prominent, it usually heals on its own within a week. More serious inner styes sometimes need medical treatment before they can go away completely.
With either type of pimple, sufferers should not squeeze or pop the stye. Doing so can introduce even more bacteria and make the eye infection even worse. A doctor will typically recommend gently holding a hot washcloth over the stye about three times per day to help bring the pus and any other fluid to the surface. Most styes on the eyelid rim will break open by themselves as a result.
The beginning symptoms of an eyelid pimple are often swelling of the lid and a feeling of something such as an eyelash caught in the eye. Some people who develop styes can also become temporarily more sensitive to bright light. In the case of an inner eye pimple, the same bump does not form on the surface and the entire eyelid can sometimes become swollen. Some inner styes can result in a longer-lasting fluid-filled cyst; an eye doctor can usually lance and drain this kind of cyst in one office visit.
If an eye pimple becomes a frequent occurrence, some prescription antibacterial ointments can help prevent future ones. Some of the easiest ways to prevent styes include washing hands before touching the eyes and refraining from sharing towels, washcloths, or make-up with others. The bacteria from a healing eyelid bump can generally be transmitted to another person, and these good hygiene practices can prevent their spread most of the time.
While most eyelid bumps are not cause for serious concern, a small number of them can develop complications. Medical professionals recommend an optometrist's intervention if a stye becomes unusually large or fails to heal after more than one week. Crusting or bleeding from the eyelid bump is another symptom that may indicate a more serious infection that needs medical attention.