Stye (Hordeolum)


Stye is a common eyelid condition that can affect people at different ages. Stye appears as a swollen, sensitive, painful and red lump on the eyelid margin or adjacent to it. This lump is actually a small abscess caused by infection or inflammation of the eyelash follicles or eyelid oil glands. Touching the eye with dirty hands (especially if it is contaminated with nasal discharge) and the inflammation of the eyelid (blepharitis) are important factors causing stye.

Stye Symptoms

• Feeling heaviness and pain in the eyelid

• A reddened swollen lump on the eyelid margin or near it

• Burning, itchy and watery eyes

• Sometimes pus discharge from the lesion

• Blurred vision (blurred vision is not among the common symptoms of stye, but if the stye is relatively large, it leads to blurred vision by blocking the visual path, putting pressure on the cornea and causing astigmatism.

Stye Treatment

Most styes gradually disappear within a few days and will not cause any specific problems. In the first few days, using warm compresses can relieve pain and may help open up a stye and drain the pus. To do this, moisten a clean towel with warm water (not hot!) and put it on the patient’s eye for 10 to 15 minutes. Mild massage also helps relieve pain and improve drainage. Warm compress massages can be done 3-4 times a day in order to drain secretions and improve eyelashes. Never try to puncture a stye or force it to drain; it can spread the infection to nearby tissues or even the brain. If a stye does not disappear after a few days, you should visit an ophthalmologist. It can be treated by the administration of medicine or a small surgery if necessary. Surgery is performed with local anesthesia, using anesthetic drops and the stye will be drained from the back of the eyelid.

In common styes, the use of antibiotic drops or oral antibiotics has little effect. However, in young children or those with highly-inflamed styes, it may be necessary to use topical or oral antibiotics based on the ophthalmologist’s opinion, in order to prevent infection from spreading to the rest of the eyelid and adjacent areas.

Stye Prevention

In some people, a stye recurs frequently. In order to prevent the recurrence of a stye, note the following tips:

• Avoid touching your eyes with dirty hands.

• Observe your eyelids' health. Clean your eyelids regularly with lukewarm water or wash and massage the eyelid margins with diluted baby shampoo. It can help prevent the recurrence of a stye.

• In case of frequent recurrence of stye, visit an ophthalmologist. Sometimes, eye conditions such as blepharitis (inflammation of the eyelid margin) or problems with oil glands cause recurrent styes, which can be avoided in case of diagnosis and treatment by an ophthalmologist. In addition, some serious eyelid conditions (such as tumors) may sometimes appear as recurring styes, in which case examinations should be performed by an ophthalmologist.


Chalazion is another type of lump in the eyelid margin, which initially looks like a stye. For more information, read the section on chalazion.