It's just a tiny red bump at the root of an eyelash, but a sty can be mighty uncomfortable -- and mighty unsightly.
A sty occurs when a gland at the root of an eyelash becomes blocked due to an infection. The gland swells and turns red, causing pain and discomfort. It may eventually come to a
head as it fills with pus.
Doctors -- from family physicians to ophthalmologists (eye doctors) -- agree that you can take the first steps in treating a sty at home and in keeping styes from coming back. Read the following home remedies to find out how.
Use warm compresses. Heat increases circulation, so warming the skin near the gland will bring more white blood cells -- which fight infection -- to the scene. Wring a clean washcloth out in warm water -- as warm as you can tolerate, but be careful not to burn the sensitive skin in the eye area. Place it on the eyelid for five minutes at a time. You may have to run the cloth through warm water several times to keep it hot enough. Do this at least two or three times a day.
Do not squeeze, poke, push, or pick at the sty. You risk spreading the infection. Even if the sty has come to a head, don't try to pop it by squeezing it; let it drain on its own.
Skip eye makeup while the sty is present. Otherwise, you risk contaminating your makeup and applicators with bacteria.
Always practice good lid hygiene. To keep styes from returning, try washing the roots of your lashes each day with diluted baby shampoo or mild soap on a cotton ball or washcloth. An alternative is to use the over-the-counter cleanser Cetaphil, which won't sting or excessively dry the skin.
Remove eye makeup. Once the sty is gone and you start wearing makeup again, be diligent about removing it daily. In other words, don't be tempted to go to bed without washing off makeup first. And wash your eyelids again in the morning before re-applying makeup.
Don't share eye makeup or applicators. You wouldn't share your toothbrush, would you? Using a friend's or family member's eye makeup could pass infection to others, or vice versa.
For more information about styes and how to combat them, try the following links:
- To see all of our home remedies and the conditions they treat, go to our main Home Remedies page.
- The key to avoiding styes is knowing How to Care for your Eyes.
- Good eyecare also includes reading up on Home Remedies for Puffy Eyes.
- If you're unlucky enough to get an eye bruise, check out our 6 Tips for Treatment of a Black Eye.
David J. Hufford, Ph.D., is university professor and chair of the Medical Humanities Department at Pennsylvania State University's College of Medicine. He also is a professor in the departments of Neural and Behavioral Sciences and Family and Community Medicine. Dr. Hufford serves on the editorial boards of several journals, including Alternative Therapies in Health & Medicine and Explore.
This information is solely for informational purposes. IT IS NOT INTENDED TO PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. Neither the Editors of Consumer Guide (R), Publications International, Ltd., the author nor publisher take responsibility for any possible consequences from any treatment, procedure, exercise, dietary modification, action or application of medication which results from reading or following the information contained in this information. The publication of this information does not constitute the practice of medicine, and this information does not replace the advice of your physician or other health care provider. Before undertaking any course of treatment, the reader must seek the advice of their physician or other health care provider.