How Long Does a Stye Last?

A stye is probably one of the most uncomfortable minor eye irritations that a person can experience. They’re not serious and don’t usually lead to complications, but they’re annoying and can feel quite painful. 

A stye is a small red bump along the lash line. It is typically the result of a bacterial infection, and it should go away within a few days to a week or two. Treatment isn’t usually necessary. The medical term for stye is hordeolum.

How Long Does a Stye Last?

It's not uncommon to wake up noticing you've developed a stye overnight. A stye doesn’t usually last very long. It should resolve on its own within one to two weeks.

Risk Factors

Some people are prone to developing styes. People who have blepharitis, which causes redness and irritation of the eyelid, are more likely to develop styes. Similarly, if you’ve had a stye before, you’re more likely to get one again. Certain skin conditions, like eczema and acne, are risk factors for styes. Diabetes can also be a risk factor.

Home Remedies 

A stye doesn’t usually require medical treatment. However, it can cause discomfort. Avoid touching or trying to squeeze a stye, as this can spread the infection.

To manage the pain and irritation of a stye, you can try applying a warm compress. The heat from the compress can reduce swelling.

Use a clean cloth to prevent bacteria from causing additional styes to form. Soak it in hot water. Apply the warm compress to the affected eye for 10 to 15 minutes, up to five times a day. Doing this can speed up healing.

If there's any pus, warmth from a compress can help drain the stye. Don't try to squeeze or drain the bump manually. If a compress doesn't offer relief, see a doctor.

Avoid using anything around your eyes until the stye heals. This includes makeup and eye creams.

Are Styes Contagious?

Styes are not contagious. You can’t spread the infection to another person. You also can’t spread the infection from one eye to the other.

When to See a Doctor

Rarely, a stye will not clear up on its own. If the infection progresses and doesn’t get better, you should see a doctor. They can prescribe antibiotics to help clear the infection. Sometimes a doctor may suggest a steroid shot to reduce swelling. In severe cases, a stye may need to be drained of fluid.

Stye vs. Chalazion

You may see styes and chalazion discussed together. Both are bumps that form on the eyelid. Here is how they differ:

  • Stye: Usually forms at the lash line, but some can form inside the lid, and most often at the edge of the eyelid. The small red bump that develops is generally caused by an infection that clogs an eyelash follicle.
  • Chalazion: It’s also a swollen eyelid bump and sometimes starts as a stye. Unlike a stye, it’s not painful. It happens when an oil gland (Meibomian gland) gets clogged. They usually develop away from the edge of the eyelid. A chalazion can take months to resolve.


Some people are more prone to these irritating red bumps than others. Thankfully, there are a few things you can do to reduce your risk of developing this kind of infection, including:

  • Wash your hands often and before touching your eyes.
  • Wash your hands before using contact lenses.
  • Maintain proper contact lens hygiene.
  • Remove makeup before going to bed.
  • Never share makeup or cosmetic tools.
  • Don't forget to throw away expired makeup, especially eye makeup like mascara.

A Word From Verywell

A stye will usually go away on its own within a short time. It’s not a serious infection, and with a bit of TLC, you can quickly heal a stye at home. You can apply a warm compress to help with swelling.

Whenever you experience eye irritation, though, pay attention to your symptoms. Is the pain getting worse? Is the swelling increasing? If the stye doesn’t go away on its own or you suspect something else is wrong, see a doctor. It’s rare for a stye infection to get worse, but it can happen. See a doctor if you notice the infection is not improving to prevent complications.

5 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Aumond S, Bitton E. The eyelash follicle features and anomalies: A review. Journal of Optometry. 2018;11(4):211-222. doi: 10.1016/j.optom.2018.05.003

  2. Boyd K. Who is at risk for chalazia and styes? American Academy of Ophtalmology. November 6, 2020.

  3. Boyd K. Chalazia and stye treatment. American Academy of Ophtalmology. November 6, 2020.

  4. Repka M X. Are styes in the eye contagious. American Academy of Ophthalmology. March 10, 2014.

  5. Boyd K. What are chalazia and styes? American Academy of Ophthalmology. November 6, 2020.

By Steph Coelho
Steph Coelho is a freelance health and wellness writer and editor with nearly a decade of experience working on content related to health, wellness, mental health, chronic illness, fitness, sexual wellness, and health-related tech.She's written extensively about chronic conditions, telehealth, aging, CBD, and mental health. Her work has appeared in Insider, Healthline, WebMD, Greatist, Medical News Today, and more.