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Stye

Styes are common and should clear up on their own within 1 or 2 weeks. They're rarely a sign of anything serious, but may be painful until they heal.

A stye usually only affects 1 eye, but it's possible to have more than 1 at a time.

It's probably not a stye if:

To reduce swelling and help the stye heal:

  1. Soak a clean flannel in warm water.
  2. Hold it against your eye for 5 to 10 minutes.
  3. Repeat this 3 or 4 times a day.

To relieve the pain, take painkillers such as paracetamol or ibuprofen. Do not give aspirin to children under 16.

Avoid wearing contact lenses and eye make-up until the stye has burst and healed.

Do not burst a stye

Do not try to burst a stye or remove an eyelash yourself. This can spread the infection.

If you have a stye, the GP may:

You cannot always prevent a stye

Styes are often caused by bacteria infecting an eyelash follicle or eyelid gland.

You're also more likely to get a stye if you have long-term blepharitis or rosacea.

You can help avoid styes by keeping your eyes clean.

Do

  • wash your face and remove eye make-up before bed

  • replace your eye make-up every 6 months

  • keep your eyelids and eyelashes clean, especially if you have blepharitis

Don't

  • do not share towels or flannels with someone who has a stye

  • do not rub your eyes if you have not recently washed your hands

  • do not put contact lenses in before washing your hands