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10 home remedies for styes

A young brunette girl in pajamas lies back with a warm tea bag over her eye stye.

When bacteria causes a stye — a painful, pimple-like bump — to form on your eyelid, it can be hard to ignore. While styes typically heal on their own, they can be treated at home to help speed up the healing process and prevent further infection.

To minimize how long your stye lasts, here are 10 stye home remedies you can try:

1. Stop wearing contact lenses

One of the first key steps in stye treatment is removing possible irritants in the eye area. Contact lenses and contact solutions can cause further irritation or dryness in the eyes, in turn creating a bigger problem for the stye and prolonging the healing time.

Wear eyeglasses instead of contacts until the stye has healed to give the area room to breathe and avoid spreading bacteria. Once the stye has cleared, be sure to wear a fresh pair of contact lenses.

2. Clean the area (and keep it clean)

A stye needs to be cared for in a clean environment in order to heal properly. It is important to clean the area with products that are safe and mild enough to use in the eye area, such as:

  • Mild, hypoallergenic soap

  • Tear-free baby wash or shampoo

  • Saline solution

Cleanse the area with clean hands, a clean washcloth or a fresh cotton swab as needed.

3. Pause your makeup routine

Avoiding cosmetics around the site of a stye can help avoid further irritation and prevent the spread of bacteria from makeup brushes and tools. Once the stye has healed, use clean or new brushes and products to resume your makeup routine.

With or without a stye, eyes are sensitive and should be cared for appropriately. To use makeup safely around your eyes, the American Academy of Ophthalmology recommends the following:

  • Do not share your mascara, eyeliner or makeup brushes.

  • Wash your hands before applying makeup.

  • Wash or replace brushes and other tools regularly.

  • Throw out makeup that is defective or expired.

4. Use a warm compress

A warm compress can help relieve pain and irritation caused by a stye, as well as encourage a stye to drain on its own.

To use, dampen a clean washcloth with warm water and place it over the affected area for up to 10 minutes. The warmth will help bring the pus to the surface of the stye and dissolve oil inside the stye.

Note: Only use warm water, as water that is too hot can damage the skin and cause discomfort. Use a clean washcloth each time and never try to pop a stye.

5. Try warm tea bags

Like a warm compress, a warm tea bag can help reduce swelling around the area of the stye.

To use, steep a bag of tea in boiling water for a few minutes and then remove. Let the tea bag cool until it is comfortable against your skin, then place over the affected area for up to 10 minutes.

Black tea is especially effective for this technique because of its antibacterial properties. You can use it on one or both eyes; just be sure to use a different tea bag for each eye.

6. Avoid popping, squeezing or picking at a stye

Squeezing, picking at or popping a stye can lead to further irritation and infection, which prolongs the healing process. If a stye becomes painful, excessively irritating or disruptive to your vision, schedule an appointment with your eye doctor for proper diagnosis and treatment.

7. Apply subtle pressure

While it's important not to pop or squeeze a stye, applying subtle pressure around the area can help encourage the stye to drain on its own. Using clean hands, gently massage the area around the stye. If you feel any discomfort, stop immediately.

If there's any drainage from the stye, use a clean washcloth to gently clean the area with mild soap and water.

8. Apply antibiotic ointment

An over-the-counter ointment designed for treating the eye area can help provide relief from a stye and promote faster healing. Using clean hands or a fresh cotton swab, apply a small amount of ointment along the eyelid of the affected eye.

When choosing an ointment, be sure to choose one that is safe for eyes and to avoid any products with steroids or whitening agents.

Dryness or irritation that occurs after a stye has healed may be relieved with eye drops, but a topical ointment is more suitable for treating the stye itself.

9. Use an over-the-counter pain reliever

In addition to over-the-counter (OTC) ointments, an OTC pain reliever can help reduce inflammation and irritation caused by a stye. Either acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Advil or Motrin) may provide relief, especially when used in conjunction with other home remedies.

10. Seek medical treatment

If you have a stye that worsens or doesn't resolve on its own or with the help of these home remedies within a week or so, schedule an appointment with your eye doctor. Styes can become more seriously infected and require special stye medication or even surgical stye removal.

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