Eye Styes (eye sties)

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Eye styes (or "sties") of the eye are inflammations or infections of an eye lash follicle or one of the meibomian glands that lie along the eyelid edge.

Styes present as red, painful lumps which can develop whitish heads of pus like a pimple. They are not contagious so there is no risk of infection to another person. Most people have one at some time in their lives.

Next: Nutritional support, diet, & lifestyle tips for eye styes.

A stye is also called a hordeolum. It is actually an abcess, a lump filled with pus, which is usually caused by a staph infection. Our skin is naturally coated with all sorts of bacteria. They generally happily co-exist with us. But just the right conditions and perhaps extra contamination from ancient eye makeup or other outside contamination can contribute to development of a stye. Sometimes styes develop (especially true in children) when we rub our eyes with unwashed hands.


  • Looks like a pimple along the edge or in the corner of the eye
  • Painful to the touch
  • Swelling in one spot on the outside of the eyelid
  • Redness

Children seem to have sties more often than grown-ups, probably because their glandular secretions are rather erratic, especially during their teens. Also, children are more likely rub their eyes with unwashed hands.

Care of Styes

Sties usually clear up fairly quickly. The important point is to keep them clean and don't squeeze or pinch or handle them.

You can use warm compresses and wash the eyelid with very mild soaps.

You should not wear eye makeup or eye lotions - and if your eye makeup is old, then it may be the source of infection. Therefore it'd be a good idea to get rid of it. Also, take note that many eye makeup items such as powder, liner and mascura themselves contain toxins, carcinogenins, etc. See our quick reference to toxins in personal care products. You can also check the brand, ingredients, companies, or type of product at www.ewg.org/skindeep to see which products are the least toxic.

Finally, don't wear contact lenses until your stye is healed. Again, suspect your contact cleansing fluid or your habits in storing your contact lenses as possible causes of the inflammation and infection.


If the stye doesn't clear up in a few weeks; if it is so swollen as to interfer with your vision, or if your eye itself is painful, then you should see a doctor. In addition if you have styes that recurr over and over, then you should check with your doctor.

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