Help and frequently asked questions

What are the symptoms of a stye?


Styes are small abscesses that develop on the eyelid. While they may be painful and cause some embarrassment, they are not usually a serious problem.

The main symptom of a stye is a tender pus-filled swelling on your eyelid. They can vary in size and may also cause the eye to go red or water excessively. Styes rarely affect your eyeball or eyesight, although they may periodically recur and can be more common in people who suffer other eye conditions such as blepharitis.

There are two types of stye:

  • External: As the name suggests, these lumps appear along the edge of the outside of your eyelid.
  • Internal: An internal stye appears on the inside of the eyelid and are often much more painful than an external stye.

Most external styes will burst of their own accord and heal after several days, meaning they rarely require further treatment. However, an internal stye can leave a persistent cyst that may need to be opened and drained.A stye should not be confused with a chalazion. While they are both swellings on the eyelid, a chalazion is a smooth, often non-tender bump that is not the result of an infection.

How does a stye form?

A bacteria that commonly lives on the skin - called the staphylococcus bacteria - causes styes to form under the right conditions.This may be because an eyelash follicle or gland located near the eyelash follicle become infected. The glands involved are usually the sebaceous (oil-secreting) gland or the apocrine (sweat) gland.

Internal styes are often due to infection of the meibomian glands, which produces an oil present in the tear film that protects the eye. People who want their styes to clear up more quickly can apply a warm compress over the eye for five to 10 minutes several times a day to encourage the pus to release.