How To Get Rid Of A Stye
Although most styes are harmless and will heal on their own in about a week, if you've ever had one, you know what a nuisance these red eyelid lumps can be.
Fortunately, there are a few home remedies that may help you get rid of a stye a little faster or at least reduce some of the discomfort and swelling that often accompany them.
Stye Treatment #1: Keep Your Eyelids Clean
The first thing you should do if you develop a stye is cleanse your eyelids. You can use diluted tear-free baby shampoo on a cotton ball, washcloth, or makeup remover pad. Then rinse your eyelids with warm water and gently pat them dry.
A stye is a red, swollen lump at the eyelid margin caused by an infection of glands that open near the base of the eyelashes.
Also, be sure to wash your hands before and after touching the stye, and don't share your towels or washcloths with others.
Pre-moistened eyelid cleansing pads are another option. You can find these non-prescription items in most drugstores.
It's wise to stop wearing eye makeup temporarily when you have a stye, because covering up a stye can delay the healing process. Also, discard old makeup or applicators that could be contaminated.
And if you need vision correction, wear glasses rather than contact lenses until your stye heals.
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Stye Treatment #2: Apply Warm, Moist Compresses
You can encourage a stye to heal faster by applying warm compresses for 10 to 15 minutes, three or four times a day.
Some people use teabags for this purpose, but a basic clean washcloth dipped in warm (not hot) water will do the trick and is easy to prepare. Wring the cloth so it's not dripping, then place it over your closed eyes.
The goal of this therapy is to bring the stye to a head, like you see on a pimple. But whatever you do, don't get anxious and try to pop a stye! The warmth from the compress often will allow the stye to open, drain and heal on its own without causing trauma to the eyelid or possibly spreading an infection by squeezing it.
Ease The Discomfort
Over-the-counter painkillers like acetaminophen and ibuprofen probably won't do much to speed healing, but these medications may ease discomfort if a stye is particularly bothersome.
Your eye doctor can also address pain associated with styes. Sometimes, your eye doctor may choose to surgically open a large stye to relieve discomfort and prevent a serious infection.
Seek Professional Help
Although these tips will help most styes clear up fairly quickly, don't hesitate to contact your eye doctor for additional advice. Your doctor might prescribe a stye ointment or other stye treatment to help the condition resolve more quickly.
If your stye worsens, affects your vision or doesn't go away within a week or so, contact your eye doctor for an in-office evaluation and treatment. In some cases, stubborn styes may require surgical treatment by your doctor, followed by application of a prescription medicine.
Preventing Future Styes
Proper eyelid hygiene can significantly reduce the risk of styes. Clean your eyelids thoroughly before bedtime, especially if you wear eye makeup.
Also, if you sometimes have problems with blepharitis, taking steps to quickly treat this eyelid problem also will help prevent the occurrence of styes.
Yanoff M and Duker J. Ophthalmology, 4th Edition. Saunders, 2013.
[Page updated October 2016]