Also known as a hordeolum, a stye is a small, painful lump developing on the inside or outside the eyelid. It’s nothing serious, and will usually clear up on its own.

What are the symptoms of a stye?

  • A small bump on the inside or outside of the eyelid (looks a bit like a spot)
  • Swollen, red eyelid
  • Feels painful or tender, particularly when you blink

Styes on the outside of the eyelid are usually a little bit more painful, but easier to treat. You’ll usually only get a stye in one eye, but it is possible to have them in both eyes, or even have more than one in the same eye.

It may look a bit worrying, but it’s very common and usually nothing to worry about.

What causes a stye?

Our eyelids have lots of little glands that help to keep the eye moist. Sometimes bacteria normally found on the skin (staphylococcus) can find its way into one of these glands, causing an infection. A stye could also be caused by an infected eyelash follicle.

What help is available?

After a couple of weeks, a stye will usually go away on its own. But there are a few things you can do to help it on its way, and ease some of your symptoms.

  • Applying a hot compress, like a flannel, to the affected eye for about 10 minutes a few times a day will help to relieve any pain, reduce swelling, and should encourage the stye to pop and drain its pus on its own.
  • If the pain is bothering you, take some paracetamol or ibuprofen as directed.
  • While it’s healing, we’d recommend that you avoid wearing contact lenses and eye make-up so that you don’t irritate the infected area.
  • It’s important that you don’t try to pop the stye yourself, as this can spread the infection.

If you’ve followed this advice and still find that the stye is not going away, it’s swelling or hurting more, or that your vision is being affected, please contact your local Specsavers store where the optometrist will advise the best course of action.

Did you know?

AA Members are entitled to a free eye test (valued at $60), once every two years. Remember to present your AA Membership card in store.

Frequently asked questions

Free exam for AA Members applies to standard eye examinations only, normally valued at $60. Excludes contact lens examination and visual field checks. Limited to one per AA Member every two years. Available to current AA Members upon presentation of AA Membership card.