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Patient education: Stye (hordeolum) (The Basics)

Patient education: Stye (hordeolum) (The Basics)

What is a stye? — A stye is a red and painful lump on the eyelid. It happens when a small gland on the edge of the eyelid gets infected or inflamed. Styes can occur on the upper or lower eyelids. Most styes get better on their own after a few days to a week. Another word for stye is "hordeolum."

People sometimes get a stye confused with a different eye problem called a "chalazion." A chalazion also causes a lump on the eyelid. But a stye is caused by an infection and is painful. A chalazion is not tender or painful, but it often lasts longer than a stye does.

What are the symptoms of a stye? — People who have a stye have a painful lump on the edge of their eyelid (picture 1). The lump might look red, swollen, or similar to a pimple.

A stye usually develops over a few days. Styes can cause other symptoms, too, such as tearing and eyelid pain and swelling.

Is there a test for a stye? — No. But your doctor or nurse should be able to tell if you have a stye by talking with you and doing an exam.

Is there anything I can do on my own to feel better? — Yes. To ease your symptoms and help your stye get better, you can put a warm, wet compress on the stye. Wet a clean washcloth with warm water and put it over your stye. When the washcloth cools, reheat it with warm water and put it back over the stye. Repeat these steps for about 15 minutes, and try to do this 4 times a day.

You should not squeeze or try to pop your stye. This can make it worse. Also, you should not wear eye makeup or contact lenses until your stye is all better.

Should I see a doctor or nurse? — See your doctor or nurse if:

Your stye doesn't go away after using warm compresses for 1 to 2 weeks

Your stye gets very big, bleeds, or affects your vision

Your whole eye is red, or your whole eyelid is red or swollen

The redness or swelling spreads to your cheek or other parts of your face

What treatments might my doctor use? — If your stye doesn't get better or if it leads to other problems, your doctor might:

Prescribe a cream or ointment that goes in the eye and on the eyelid

Prescribe antibiotic medicines

Do a procedure to drain the stye

Can styes be prevented? — Yes. To lower your chances of getting a stye, you can:

Wash your hands often – It's especially important to wash your hands before you touch your eyes. Also, if you wear contact lenses, keep them clean and wash your hands before you put them in.

Be careful with your eye makeup – Wearing eye makeup can sometimes cause a stye. Remove your eye makeup each night, and throw away old makeup. Do not share eye makeup with other people.

More on this topic

Patient education: Conjunctivitis (pink eye) (The Basics)
Patient education: Chalazion (The Basics)

Patient education: Conjunctivitis (pink eye) (Beyond the Basics)

This topic retrieved from UpToDate on: Jan 02, 2023.
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