What can I do for the stye on my eye?

Originally Published: April 2, 2004 - Last Updated / Reviewed On: January 3, 2013
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Hi Alice,

What do you do for a stye on your eye? It's swelled almost shut.

Dear Reader,

A stye, a red, irritated, tender, swollen bump in the corner or hair follicle of the eyelid, is caused by an infection of the glands at the edge of the eyelid. The same staph bacteria that lives on the skin and causes skin infection causes styes.

Although most styes go away on their own within a few days, you can apply hot compresses 4 times daily for 15 minutes at a time to soothe the stye and possibly help it resolve more quickly. Sometimes, antibiotic ointments or drops are necessary. If the infection spreads, a health care provider may need to surgically lance or drain the area, or s/he may prescribe systemic (oral) antibiotics.

Because you describe your eye as being swelled almost shut, pay a visit to your health care provider as soon as possible to make sure that what you're experiencing is really a simple stye, or something else. Management and treatment of your condition will depend on the diagnosis. Columbia students on the Morningside campus can make an appointment with Medical Services by logging on to Open Communicator or by calling 212-854-2284. Columbia students on the Medical Center campus can make an appointment with Student Health by calling 212-305-3400.

If you are susceptible to developing styes, you might try cleaning your eyelid with a clean, warm cloth a couple times a day, in an effort to avoid developing another stye. Try not to touch or rub your eye during the day, because you may spread the infection within that eyelid. Although styes are not generally considered to be likely to spread to your other eye or to be contagious between people, careful, frequent handwashing with soap will help prevent the spread of infection.

Alice

January 29, 2009

21510

Dear Alice,

I used to get these all the time until a great eye doctor told me to clean the area twice a day (morning and evening) with Johnson's baby shampoo, warm water, and a clean gauze...

Dear Alice,

I used to get these all the time until a great eye doctor told me to clean the area twice a day (morning and evening) with Johnson's baby shampoo, warm water, and a clean gauze pad. Cleanse all over the eyelid and try to get underneath the affected area, even if it stings a little tiny bit. Then rinse with warm water and pat it dry with a new gauze pad or a clean cloth. In a couple of days, the swelling and discomfort should go down. I also find that a chamomile tea bag in hot water makes a good hot compress in between baby shampooings!

March 25, 2005

20872
Dear Alice,

I, too, have a tendency to develop styes in my eyes. I've found that if you're prone to them, one of the best sources for infection is your make-up. Replace any makeup used for your...

Dear Alice,

I, too, have a tendency to develop styes in my eyes. I've found that if you're prone to them, one of the best sources for infection is your make-up. Replace any makeup used for your eyes. They say mascara should be replaced every 6 months anyways, which is one way to help avoid and prevent infection.