How to get rid of a stye

First Aid & Treatment

Styes are commonly caused by the bacterium staphylococcus coming into contact with an oil gland on your eyelid, resulting in pus, swelling and inflammation.

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Get rid of a stye quickly

A stye can really put a damper on your week. They’re an irritation to your eyes and can cause disruption to the most basic tasks. It’s even more annoying if you’re used to wearing contact lenses and have to switch back to glasses while it heals.

Even though styes typically clear up on their own, it’s good to know how to speed up the healing process, especially if one crops up at a really inconvenient time.

What is a stye?

A stye is a lump that appears on your eyelid around the lash line. It can occur on the upper or lower eyelid. Most of the time, a stye will appear on the exterior of your eyelid, but they can occur on the inner area of your eyelids too. They’re usually red in color and look similar to a pimple. Oftentimes, pus is present in the stye. 

According to the Mayo Clinic, common symptoms of a stye include:

  • Redness
  • General swelling around the stye and the rest of the eyelid
  • Pain in the eyelid around the site of the stye
  • Increased tearing in the eye

Styes usually clear up on their own within a week. If it takes longer to heal or if you experience swelling without any pain, you may have a chalazion. This is similar to a stye but it may take longer to heal.

What causes styes?

Just like the rest of your skin, your eyelids contain oil glands. When one of these glands becomes infected with bacteria, a stye can occur. Staphylococcus is typically the bacterium that causes styes. 

Any activity that causes bacteria to come into contact with the oil glands around your eyelids can lead to a stye. This includes:


  • Touching your eyes without washing your hands
  • Using old makeup
  • Using contact lenses without washing them properly
  • Leaving makeup such as mascara on while sleeping

Some preexisting conditions such as blepharitis (frequent eyelid inflammation) can increase your risk of developing styes.

7 ways to get rid of a stye

1. Avoid cosmetics and contact lenses

eye cream

Applying cosmetics to your eyelid while you have an ongoing stye will only cause further irritation to the area. It’s a good idea to avoid cosmetics such as makeup, eye cream and eye serum. Your mascara or eye cream could actually contain the bacteria that caused the stye in the first place. Avoiding the use of cosmetics means avoiding further styes cropping up around your lash line. 

Always be careful to remove eye makeup fully to help prevent styes. 

2. Apply a warm compress

Similar to a pimple elsewhere on your face, a stye can be filled with pus, and they’ll generally erupt and drain before they begin to heal. While you should never attempt to “pop” a stye, a warm compress brings the pus closer to the surface, helps to open up your pores and begins the draining and healing process more quickly.

face cloth

A warm compress is as simple as running a clean face cloth under warm water, squeezing out the excess water and then holding the cloth against your eye for a few minutes at a time.

3. Massage the area gently

This is a particularly useful exercise right after a warm compress. Gently massage the area around the stye with clean fingertips. Don’t massage directly on the stye itself. Gentle movements can help to displace the pus and begin the draining process.

4. Clean your eyelid

Cleaning the eyelid and lash line ensures that any lingering bacteria won’t make its way into another oil gland and cause further styes. It also helps to keep the oil gland containing the existing stye from getting blocked up any further.

eye-friendly soap

Make sure to use hypoallergenic, eye-friendly soap. Harsh soap may cause further irritation to your eyes and the stye area. You can also use cotton pads to avoid getting the soap in your eye.

5. Use a teabag

While there’s no medical evidence to confirm the efficacy of this common household recipe, many people swear by tea bag compresses to heal styes and other eye ailments. Black tea is said to work best for this home remedy. Simply steep a tea bag in hot water and set it to the side. Once it has cooled to a warm temperature, apply it to the outside of your eye as a warm compress.

6. Take OTC anti-inflammatory medication


Since the bacteria in your eyelid’s oil gland causes swelling, taking some over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medication such as Advil can reduce redness and inflammation around your stye. 

7. Apply OTC stye ointments

You can also try specific ointments designed to speed up the healing process for a stye. These ointments often contain mild antibiotic ingredients to help eliminate the bacteria causing the stye in the first place.

How to prevent styes from coming back

Get new eye cosmetics

Once a stye appears, it’s a good idea to replace any cosmetics or tools that come into contact with your eyes. This includes contact lenses, mascara, eyeliner and makeup brushes. The same goes for any eye creams or serums, especially any that come in jars. If you’ve touched your infected eye and put a finger back in the jar, you might cause a stye to recur the next time you use the product.

Wash your hands frequently

The bacteria that causes styes often comes from your hands. Be sure to wash your hands before applying makeup, contact lenses or any other activity where your hands come into contact with your eyes.

What you need to buy for stye treatment

Optix 55 Eye Compress

Optix 55 Eye Compress

This microwaveable warm compress for the eye is very easy to use. It can also be washed and reused, which is convenient for people who regularly get styes.

Sold by Amazon

Similasan Stye Eye Relief Drops

Similasan Stye Eye Relief Drops

These eye drops contain only natural active ingredients. They’re particularly useful if you have severe symptoms since they quickly relieve the redness, swelling and excessive tearing that commonly accompany a stye. 

Sold by Amazon and Bed Bath & Beyond


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Lauren Farrell writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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