Styes

A stye is a small abscess (painful collection of pus) on the eyelid and is an infection at the root of an eyelash.

A stye is a small abscess (painful collection of pus) on the eyelid and is an infection at the root of an eyelash.

What is a stye?

A stye is a small abcess (painful collection of pus) on the eyelid and is an infection at the root of an eyelash.  It appears as a small painful red lump, often with a yellow spot in the middle, on the outside of the eyelid. Other symptoms include a watery eye and a red eye or eyelid. It's not always necessary to see a doctor if you develop a stye, although if you have a painful and very swollen eyelid with a stye, you should have it checked.

Causes of styes

Styes are fairly common and a person may have one or two styes during their lifetime. Styes are usually caused by an infection with staphylococcus bacteria.  If you have been diagnosed with long-term blepharitis (inflammation of the eyelids), this may also increase the risk of styes.

Treatment for styes

Most styes get better without treatment within a few days or weeks. Styes may burst and release pus after three or four days. A warm compress (a cloth warmed with warm water) held against the eye encourages the stye to release pus and heal more quickly.  Further treatment is not usually needed unless you have a very painful stye that is not getting better or a very swollen red lid indicating spreading infection. In this case, see your doctor who  may decide to treat it with antibiotics, drain it or refer you to an ophthalmologist .

You should never attempt to burst a stye yourself.