What causes stye in your eye? 3 steps to getting rid of styes

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Styes look a little bit like a boil or pimple in the eyelid or around the eye, but they’re normally filled with pus. They can cause swelling, pain, and tearing and be very irritating and unsightly. Here’s 3 ways to avoid and get rid of styes.

What causes stye in your eye?

You cannot always prevent a stye because they’re often caused by bacteria infecting an eyelash follicle or eyelid gland.

The most common culprit is bacterium staphylococcus.

You’re also more likely to get a stye if you have long-term blepharitis or rosacea.

Most styes are harmless and will clear up on their own in a couple of weeks, but you shouldn’t self diagnose.

If it’s a stye, the skin around it may be swollen and red and the stye may be filled with yellow pus. The redness may be harder to see on brown and black skin.

Your eye may be red and watery but your vision should not be affected, and styes usually only affect one eye but it’s possible to have more than one at a time.

The NHS site recommends seeing your GP if the stye is very painful or swollen or impacts your vision.

It’s probably not a stye if:

  • There’s no lump – if your eye or eyelid is swollen, red and watery it’s more likely to be conjunctivitis or blepharitis
  • The lump is hard but not very painful – it’s more likely to be a chalazion
  • You should see a doctor if the stye doesn’t improve after a couple of days and the redness or swelling impacts the entire eyelid or extends into other parts of your face.

3 steps to getting rid of styes

To reduce swelling and help the stye heal, follow these three steps:

  • Soak a clean flannel in warm water
  • Hold it against your eye for five to 10 minutes
  • Repeat this three or four times a day

Make sure you take painkillers such as paracetamol or ibuprofen if the pain is really bad, and avoid wearing contact lenses and eye makeup until the stye has burst and healed.

Do not burst a stye or remove an eyelash yourself as this can spread the infection.

You can help to speed up the healing process and avoid styes in the future by keeping your eyes clean.

Always wash your face and remove eye make-up before bed and replace your eye make-up every 6 months.
Keep your eyelids and eyelashes clean in particular, especially if you have blepharitis.

Whatever you do, do not share towels or flannels with someone who has a stye and never share eye makeup

Do not rub your eyes if you have not recently washed your hands and do not put contact lenses in before washing your hands.

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