Can you pop a stye?
Simply put, you should never pop a stye. In addition to never popping a stye, try to avoid squeezing, scratching, or even touching it, if you can help it.
When you pop a stye, you can release infectious bacteria onto your eyelids and the eye itself. Bacteria can spread and cause other infections, and if your eye itself gets infected, it can be serious.
While a stye can look like a pimple on your eye, complete with a white head, you shouldn’t treat a stye like you might a pimple. It’s difficult to transfer any infection from a pimple, since they are usually in isolated parts of your face. Popping a stye is different, since it’s so close to the infection-prone surface of the eye.
Popping a stye also creates a small, open wound, which can become a target for outside contaminants and another infection.
Another good reason not to pop a stye is that you may not be looking at a stye at all. A stye can be confused with a chalazion. While a chalazion usually appears higher up, the bump on your eyelid can be low enough to seem like a stye.
Unlike a stye, a chalazion is not very painful. Trying to squeeze or pop a chalazion could end up aggravating the problem and making it worse.
Waiting for a stye to go away
Instead of popping a stye, try treating it until it goes away on its own. A stye will usually run its course within one to two weeks.
A warm compress is one of the best home remedies for a stye. Simply run a clean cloth under warm water, hold it against the affected eye for about 10 minutes, then repeat the process a few times each day. This simple treatment can reduce painful swelling and the amount of time it takes for your stye to heal on its own.
If a stye doesn’t go away on its own, schedule an appointment with an eye doctor to determine the best course of treatment.
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Page published in November 2020
Page updated in March 2022