Styes (Hordeolum)

If you experience pain, followed by redness on a small area on the margin of your eyelid, this may indicate an eye medical condition known as stye, or external hordeolum. Internal styes usually form further into the eye, and have similar symptoms to the external ones.

According to eye practitioners, a stye is a blocked oil gland, usually at the edge of your eye lid, which is infected by bacteria, Staphylococcus aureus.  Although your vision will not be affected by the infection, the affected area becomes tender to touch, and may form a ‘point’ that looks like a pimple.

Over time, the stye grows which results into a painful and swollen eyelid. Your eyes may become watery as well. During diagnosis, an optometrist will closely examine your eyelid to determine whether there is development of a hard lump.

A stye should only be diagnosed by a professional eye doctor because it can be easily confused with an eye disease known as a chalazion. The main difference is that the latter develops further in your eyelid margin, and leads to formation of painless lumps over time.

What Are The Causes?

An external hordeolum is usually caused by a bacterial infection; the bacteria grows in the root or follicle of your eyelash.

An internal hordeolum on the other hand, is a result of an infection in one of the tiny oil glands inside your eyelid.

What Are The Treatments?

Optometrists point out that styes will heal on their own, but there are various ways you can speed up the healing process.

You can start by applying a warm compress on the affected site, several times a day, for about 5 minutes. There are medicated pads available on the market for this purpose. This is meant to allow the ‘head’ to rupture and drain on its own.

We highly discourage anyone from trying to pop a stye. Instead, let it rupture on its own. Most will swell for about 3 days before breaking open and draining. For most people, healing takes about 7 days.

After the warm compresses, you should apply a prescribed antibiotic ointment or sulphonamide to the stye to relive the symptoms.  Once the stye comes to a head, a doctor will express to get rid of the contents and gently cleanse your eye lids. You should keep applying the ointment until the stye has cleared completely.

However, in case of an internal hordeolum, you may need to visit an eye doctor to have it professionally drained. This is because these styes develop under the eyelid, and are less likely to heal on their own.

In addition to these treatments, doctors will advise against wearing eye makeup or contact lenses until the affected site is healed completely.

If the styes do not get better even with the prescribed treatment, you should visit your doctor, who will examine the area and recommend other treatments, such as eye drops. In case the infection has spread to your eye lids or your eyes, you may need an antibiotic prescription to prevent it from spreading to other areas.

You can also prevent occurrence of styes by protecting your eyes from dust and pollution, replacing your eye make up every 6 months and refraining from rubbing your eyes often as this can cause bacterial infections.


Skip to content