What Causes a Stye?

A stye is a red bump that forms on the eyelid. Styes are usually red and painful and can look like pimples.

A stye develops when one of the glands at the edge of the eyelid becomes infected and can develop on the inside or outside of the eyelid. Styes can happen at any age.

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Affected areas are tender with localized redness and swelling. They do not interfere with vision.

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Many styes heal within a few days on their own. This process can be helped by applying warm compresses to the affected area. A clean washcloth should be run under very warm water until wet. The cloth is folded, then applied to the eyelid with the bulge. When it cools down, the cloth should be run under very warm water and placed again on the eye.

This routine is repeated for 15 minutes four times a day over the course of several days. When heat is applied, it brings the stye to a head like a pimple, allowing the tense fluid inside to drain and relieve any associated pain. If a patient frequently develops styes, their eye doctor may prescribe an antibiotic to prevent recurrences.