An eye sty, commonly known as sty, or hordeolum, is a small lump on the outside or inside the eyelid that can at times be painful, but not in all cases. It is commonly caused due to intrusion of a bacteria leading to an eye infection and a pus-filled abscess. Styes are extremely common, with almost everyone experiencing them at some point or another in their lives. Usually found superficially, but sty can also originate deep within the eyelid.

Types of Sty

There are two types of eye sty: Internal and external.

1. Internal Sty

This type of sty occurs on the inner side of the lid and can cause a red, painful swelling. It can vanish completely after the infection is over, or it leaves a tiny cyst or nodule filled with fluid which has to be treated in order to open and drain out.

2. External Sty

This type of sty originates as a small spot above the eyelashes, however, turns into painful and red swelling within a few hours. This type of sty persists for several days before bursting and then self-healing itself. The sty itself looks like acne, with a familiar whitehead on top of the eyelid. They have a short life and are self-limited.

Causes and Symptoms of Sty

Styes are typically caused via staphylococcus bacteria, which frequently exists right on the surface of our skin. Our bodies are covered with almost a million good symbiotic bacteria which feed on the dead cells and debris of our skin under given conditions, and causing a pimple. The symptom of an eye sty is a warm, red and tender swelling close to the rim of the eyelid.

Treating a Sty

Commonly, sty can be treated through applying warm pressure on the area. If they exist for two days unaffected, then draining a sty by making incision is considered. During the infection, the affected area can be cleansed with a mild soap. Under severe circumstances, doctors either drain out the sty with a needle or prescribe antibiotics.

It is however not a good idea to make an incision at the eye sty, for it can worsen the infection and cause a spread to the surrounding area and tissues. Also, one should avoid lotions, contact lenses and makeup during the infected period as it will lead to spreading of infection within the eye.

Preventive Measures

If styes are likely to reappear again, you need to practice healthier eyelid hygiene. Place a few droplets of gentle shampoo into some warm water and mix. Softly apply the mixture onto the rim of your eyelashes by means of a cotton ball. The rubbing on the eyelids keeps them clear of cellular debris. Also avoid cosmetics, dirty hands and dirty towels during the infection or if you see an eye sty reappearing.


Styes typically risk-free and hardly ever affect your eyesight. They can happen at any time and have a tendency to occasionally come back. They are often confused with chalazia, which are harmless bumps due to oil collection within the sebaceous glands of the eyelid, yet both are entirely different from one another.


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