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Stye

Introduction
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A stye, also known as a hordeolum, is a small abscess (painful collection of pus) on the eyelid. It appears as a painful lump on the:

  • outside of the eyelid (external stye) or
  • inside of the eyelid (internal stye)

A stye is usually caused by an infection with staphylococcus bacteria. See the Health A-Z topic about Staphylococcal infections for more information.

How common are styes?

Styes are fairly common. A person may have one or two styes during their lifetime.

Chronic (long-term) blepharitis (inflammation of the eyelids) may increase the risk of styes. See the Health A-Z topic about Blepharitis for more information on this condition.

Outlook

Most styes get better without any treatment within one to three weeks. External styes may turn into yellow spots and release pus around three or four days later. Internal styes are more painful and may last slightly longer.

A warm compress (a cloth warmed with hot water) held against the eye encourages the stye to release pus and heal more quickly. Further treatment is not usually needed.

Some people may find that their stye reoccurs.


Last reviewed: 12/07/2010
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Last modified: Dec 2014