How can I Treat a Stye?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
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  • Last Modified Date: 23 June 2019
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There are some self care and medical options for treating a stye, an infection of the sebaceous glands along the eyelid which is also known as a hordeolum. Many sties resolve on their own, and self care is often sufficient to treat the stye, with the condition typically clearing up within a week or so. For more stubborn sties, a visit to the doctor's office for additional treatment options may be necessary.

Sties form when bacteria enters the sebaceous glands along the eyelids, causing infection and inflammation. The area around the gland becomes puffy and red, typically turning into a small and sometimes very painful bump with a small white dot. When you treat a stye, the goal is to prevent the spread of bacteria, encourage the stye to burst so that it will drain, and to clear up the inflammation.

Home treatment starts with warm compresses. Take a clean washcloth, soak it in hot water, and hold it to the area several times a day. You may want to wash the area gently with a mild antibacterial soap afterwards, to discourage the bacteria from spreading. You can also use heated gel packs, warm potatoes, and heated eye pillows, but make sure to check the temperature against the inside of your wrist before you apply the compress to your eye, because if it's too hot, it can be very painful. You can also treat a stye with freshly used tea bags, which hold heat for some time.


Warm compresses ease the inflammation and promote drainage. When you treat a stye, you should never attempt to pop or puncture it, as you could hurt your eye or cause the bacteria to spread. Even if the stye is painful, patient applications of warm compresses usually do the trick. You can also take aspirin to bring down the pain and swelling. Eating a good diet to promote immune system health is also a good idea.

If a stye does not resolve, or it becomes very large and painful, you may need to go to a doctor to treat a stye. The doctor will prescribe antibiotic ointment to kill the bacteria, although you may need to continue with the warm compresses. Doctors can also drain sties with a needle, if they think this is necessary.

To prevent the recurrence of sties, get in the habit of washing your face every morning and evening to clear away bacteria. You should also try to keep your hands away from your eyes, and be careful with eye makeup. Never share eye makeup, as you may pick up bacteria that way, and wash eye makeup thoroughly off at the end of the day to prevent clogged glands and irritation which could lead to infection.


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Discuss this Article

Post 3

Has anyone heard that putting gold on a stye will cure it? Some one told me about this the other day, and I don't see how gold could do anything to treat a stye. The man who was telling me this swore that he does this all of the time and it works. I still have my doubts. I would feel silly even trying this. I certainly wouldn't let anyone see me doing it.

By the way, if you are considering trying this then be sure to use at least 18 karat gold. He told me the gold has to be at least 18 karats. I didn't ask why.

Post 2

I have tried some herbal mixtures that are supposed to be good for treating a stye. You can find recipes for these in books written about home remedies. Maybe I haven't found the right herbs yet, but what I have used hasn't been much help. The stye didn't go away any sooner than usual, and the pain was just as bad as when I didn't use the herbs.

Post 1

I don't know whether there is a connection, but I seem to get sties when I read a lot, watch a lot of TV or strain by eyes in some way. There may be no connection, but this is what I always thought the problem was.

The only treatment that helps me once the stye is there is to keep my eye closed. I usually fashion some type of patch to cover the eye, so I don't strain it any more than it already is. I can't say that the eye stye is particularly painful, but it is uncomfortable enough to be a major irritation.

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