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A stye is a small, painful infection of the eyelash follicle which can cause a swelling on the inside or outside of the eyelid.

If you have a stye, your eye may also be watery and you may have a red eye or eyelid.

A stye – also called a hordeolum – usually only affects one eye, although it's possible to have styes in both eyes or to have more than one stye in the same eye. Your vision shouldn't be affected.


What causes a stye?


Styes are usually caused by an bacterial infection, often with staphylococcus bacteria (staphylococcal infection).

Long-term blepharitis (inflammation of the eyelids) may also increase the risk of developing a stye.

Styes are fairly common and you may have at least one or two during your lifetime.


Treating a stye


Most styes get better without treatment within a few days or weeks.

Plucking the infected eyelash (which will be painful for a few minutes) will release any pus and alleviate pressure.

A warm compress (a cloth warmed with warm water) held against the eye will encourage the stye to release pus and heal more quickly.

An Eyemask, which is heated in a microwave provides a longer lasting warmth. Leave it on for 10 minutes and then massage the lid to release pus.

Scrubbing lids with Blephaclean or Blephasol will remove debris and reduce the chance of infection.


Complications of a stye


Your GP may prescribe antibiotics if you experience complications of a stye.

Complications can include:

  • a Chalazion (Meibomian cyst) – which can develop if a gland in your eyelid is blocked

  • preseptal cellulitis – an infection of the tissues around your eye

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