Home Conditions Eye Conditions A-Z

How to get rid of a stye: Treatments and remedies

boy with a stye

A stye is a painful red lump in the eyelid (near the base of the eyelashes) caused by an infected gland.

Most styes are harmless and will heal on their own in about a week.

Here are two home remedies that may help you get rid of a stye a little faster — or at least reduce some of the swelling and discomfort it causes.

Stye treatment 1: Clean your eyelids

  • The first thing you should do if you develop a stye is cleanse your eyelids. You can use diluted baby shampoo on a clean face cloth. Then rinse your eyelids with warm water and gently pat them dry.

  • Also, be sure to wash your hands before and after touching the stye, and don't share your towels or face cloths with others.

  • Pre-moistened eyelid cleansing pads are another option. You can purchase these in most pharmacies.

  • It's wise to stop wearing eye makeup when you have a stye. Also, discard old makeup or applicators that could be contaminated e.g. mascara.

  • If you need vision correction, wear glasses rather than contact lenses until your stye heals.

Stye treatment 2: Apply warm, moist compresses

  • You can help a stye to heal faster by applying warm compresses for 10 to 15 minutes, three or four times a day.

  • To do this, soak a clean face cloth in warm water. Then wring the cloth (so it's not dripping) and place it over your closed eyelid.

  • Warm compresses will help bring the stye to a head, like you see on a pimple BUT do not squeeze or “pop” a stye! Allow the stye to open, drain and heal on its own. Squeezing a stye can cause the infection to spread and get worse.

Ease the discomfort

  • Over-the-counter painkillers like paracetamol and ibuprofen probably won't do much to speed healing, but these medications may ease discomfort if a stye is particularly bothersome.

  • Your optometrist can also address pain associated with styes. Sometimes, your optometrist may choose to gently open a large stye to relieve discomfort and prevent a serious infection.

Seek professional help

These tips usually will help most styes clear up fairly quickly but don’t hesitate to contact your optometrist for additional advice. Your GP might prescribe a medicated 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 optometrist. In some cases, stubborn styes may require surgical treatment in hospital by an ophthalmologist, 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 will also help prevent styes.

Find Eye Doctor

Find an optometrist near you

Find Eye Doctor