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Child with stye.

Child with stye.
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A stye is a small, painful cyst on your eyelid. It is usually caused from infection by bacteria at the base of an eyelash follicle.

The stye may feel sore and tender and may block part of your vision until it goes away. Styes usually clear up by themselves in 1 to 3 weeks, without treatment.

  • Hold a warm compress against your eye for 2 minutes at a time. This can help open up the blocked pores. A clean damp face washer that has been submerged in very warm water (as warm as you can tolerate) is ideal. Do this 3 times a a day. Always make sure your eye is closed when doing this.
  • Keep the area around your eye clean by gently washing your eyelid with water.
  • You can also clean your eyes by using a damp cotton wool pad to wipe away any discharge. Do not use dry cotton wool or a tissue to clean your eye as this may scratch it.
  • Try not to wear eye make-up or contact lenses until the stye has disappeared as this may irritate your eye and block the glands further.
  • Try not to poke, prod, squeeze or scratch the stye as this could cause an infection. Avoid using sharp objects, such as tweezers, around your eyes.

If you have an eye discharge, you should see your doctor.

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Last reviewed: December 2019

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