Stye in Eye

What is a Stye in Eye?

A stye is also known as a hordeolum and can also be spelled sty. A stye on eyelid is a painful abscess. They are filled with pus. They can grow on the upper or lower eye lid. Bacteria cause styes to develop. Those bacteria can get stuck in the edge of the eyelid along with dead skin cells. (6)

Stye in Eye

The external kinds of styes start as a pimple next to the eyelashes. Usually styes cause sensitivity to light, the feeling of a foreign body on the eye and tearing. The pimple then inflames, eventually erupts within 2 to 4 days and then heals. Most external styes heal on their own but some may need help from the doctor.

An internal stye also develops with a pimple but usually cannot erupt as a white head due to its location. It is rare for internal styes to erupt spontaneously. These kinds of styes may heal when the infection has run its course or they may turn into fluid filled cysts that need draining. Sometimes people develop a fever along with these styes. Sometimes styes can lead to facial cellulitis infections which can be very serious.

Styes are different from chalazion. Chalazia are non infected obstructions of the meibomian gland (sebaceous gland that secretes oil to the surface of the eye). They can also grow on the upper or lower eye lid. Chalazia start off swelling the eyelid. Sometimes they cause the whole eye to be swollen shut. Then the site turns into a non tender lump. These usually drain into the inner eyelid and are spontaneously absorbed in 2 to 8 weeks.

Sometimes they can persist longer. Depending on the location of the chalazion, they can indent the cornea and cause blurred vision. When a chalazion heals, sometimes they grow scar tissue around the site. Then the pain stops but a bump remains. This scar tissue usually is harmless and does not usually affect the eye sight. Styes and chalazia can grow at any age and at any time. [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6]

What Causes Styes in Eye and Chalazia?

Infection from staphylococcal bacteria causes styes. This kind of bacteria lives on the skin normally. These bacteria eat the dead skin cells near the eye and cause a pimple to form.



Related image

  • Beginning of a stye is a lump on the upper or lower eye lid
  • Pain
  • Localized swelling
  • Redness
  • Tenderness to site
  • Eyelid crusting
  • Eye burning
  • Eyelid drooping
  • Eyeball scratchy feeling
  • Blurred vision
  • Eye discharge
  • Eye tearing
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Feeling like a foreign body is on the eye
  • Increased blood flow to the eye
  • Hardened site (induration)
  • Sometimes fever and chills


Chalazia are caused by the blocked oil ducts in the eyes. Certain practices can make it easier for the formation of styes and chalazia like: improper removal of makeup, using old makeup, poor eye hygiene, inflammation, rosacea, stress and hormones. [1, 5]

Image result for eye chalazion

  • Small smooth nodule or lump
  • Usually not painful
  • Tends to be more prominent on inside of eyelid
  • Swollen eye lid (sometimes massively causing eye to be completely shut)

Danger Signs for Eyes

People that find any lumps on their eyelids need to visit their physician who may refer them to an ophthalmologist. The following signs need urgent care: [1]

  • Eye swollen shut
  • Redness around entire eye
  • Vision changes
  • Three weeks or more of swelling
  • A recurrent stye, especially in the same spot
  • Bleeding from the lump
  • Eyelashes fall out
  • The stye is located on the lower eyelid near the nose
  • Sclera (white part of the eye) is reddened
  • Pus drains from the eye
  • High fever over 100 F
  • Excessive tearing
  • Significant pain
  • Swelling in the lymph nodes
  • Double vision

eye cellulitis

eye cellulitis

Image 3, 4 are danger signs of eye diseases

Diagnosis of a Stye or Chalazia

A family physician can treat a stye or chalazion or may refer the person to the ophthalmologist. The doctor will complete a physical examination of the site. They will evaluate whether the site is a stye or a chalazion. The doctor will look for scar tissue, foreign bodies and chronic inflammation.

They will ask questions and get a history from the patient. It is important to tell the doctor if you have a history of eye problems. If the doctor thinks the site has become infected then diagnostic imaging like a CT scan and blood work may be performed. [1, 3]

Stye in Eye Home Remedies 

  • Warm compress to the site for 15 minutes several times a day
  • Keep the site clean with mild soap and water
  • No squeezing of the pimple and no attempts to puncture it
  • No wearing of makeup or facial creams
  • No contact lenses until fully healed
  • Over the counter pain relievers[1, 2]

How to Get Rid of a Stye?

  • Antibiotic eye drops for stye may be needed or eye ointments
  • Severe styes may require oral antibiotics
  • People with styes and rosacea may need topical antibiotics to treat their skin as well
  • IV antibiotics for stye treatment are needed when the infection spreads
  • Sometimes steroids need to be injected into the lump
  • When styes do not heal they may require surgery to relieve pressure
    • Surgeon places a small incision into the abscess
    • Surgeon will drain the site of pus or oil
    • A biopsy may be taken to rule out cancer
    • Usually performed in the office, children can be sedated if necessary via general anesthetic at the hospital
    • Follow up appointment thereafter to assess healing[1, 2]

Prevention of Styes or Chalazia

  • Good hand washing
  • Good skin care
  • In the morning and before bed, applying a warm face cloth to the eyelids can help reoccurrence
  • Keep make up and make up tools clean, do not share make up with others and old make up should be thrown out
  • Oral flaxseed may help reoccurrence
  • Keep contact lenses clean and wash them in between uses
  • Treatment of rosacea[1, 2, 5]

Stye and Chalazia Prognosis

Styes may recur and these persistent styes need to be further evaluated by a specialist. This issue can point to underlying medical conditions like cancer, infections, inflammatory problems and parasites. Eye problems caused by the stye will usually improve after treatment. Styes usually heal within 4 days and a chalazion may take months to heal.

Is a stye contagious?


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Reference List:

  1. Emedicine Health, Available from:
  2. Mayo Clinic, Available from:
  3. Medicine Net, Available from:
  4. Merck Manual, Available from:
  5. WedMD, Available from: AND
  6. YouTube, Available from: AND AND
  7. Key Words Suggest, Available from:
  8. Eye Infection Photos, Available from:

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