How to Get Rid of a Stye

Treatment for styes should be tailored to the severity and cause. It can include home remedies, over-the-counter medications, and prescriptions. Surgery is uncommon unless the style becomes so severe that it needs to be drained.

A stye, also called a hordeolum, is a painful red lump that can occur under the eyelid (called an internal hordeolum) or at the base of your eyelashes (called an external hordeolum). This bacterial infection in the oil-producing glands of the eyelid can be caused by lifestyle or medical conditions including eyelid inflammation (blepharitis), seborrheic dermatitis, rosacea, diabetes, and lifestyle factors such as contact lens use and using old makeup.

Stye treatment

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Home Remedies and Lifestyle

Since a stye is usually caused by a blocked oil gland on the eyelid, it usually heals with some simple at-home care.

You can use the following tactics to help it heal at home:

Cleanse Often

When you set up the eyelid to treat your stye, make sure to keep it as bacteria-free as possible. Always be sure to wash your hands before you touch your face. You should wash your face, including the eye area, every day.

Opt for eyelid wipes or a mild face cleanser that does not contain any beads or textured particles. A tear-free baby shampoo such as Johnson's baby shampoo is a good choice. You may want to mix it with a little water to ensure it is gentler for your eyelid.

Apply a Warm Compress

Application of heat can help reduce inflammation and shrink the bump. The goal is to cause it to rupture so that the white pus produced by the infection can drain. The heat from a washcloth soaked with warm water is not sufficient because it cools down very quickly.

Instead, opt for heat masks, which you can warm up in a microwave before putting them on top of your eyes. Other over-the-counter heat products like self-heating eye pads can also help. It’s important to allow the stye to pop on its own rather than squeeze it yourself.

To make a warm compress, heat a wet towel in the microwave until it’s warm, or dip it in hot water and wring it out. Make sure the towel is warm, not hot. Some styes begin to shrink after a few days of this treatment.

Apply Warm Tea Bags

Another popular natural remedy that you can try at home is to apply warm tea bags to your eyes. You can apply them for about 10 to 15 minutes at a time, or until they are no longer warm.

Some types of tea are believed to have healing properties that can help soothe your eyelid. For example, green tea is known to have a high content of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties, with matcha tea being a more condensed form of green tea.

Other types of tea with anti-inflammatory, soothing properties include black tea, oolong tea, rooibos, and chamomile tea.

Massage the Area

After you thoroughly cleanse your face and hands, you can gently massage the area around your eyelid with your hands to promote drainage. You should never try to directly pop the style. Instead, you should carefully massage the surrounding area to help it loosen up and release the infected material on its own.

A good time to do this is after you have applied a warm compress or warm tea bags, as your eyelids will be more relaxed.

Avoid Wearing Makeup

While your stye is healing, avoid touching the area near your eyes, and don’t wear makeup until the infection heals.

Make sure to replace your eye makeup with a new product before you start wearing makeup again. You should also be replacing your eye makeup at least every six months to prevent bacteria from building up in the product and then getting into your eye.

Switch to Glasses

While your stye heals, you need to avoid anything near your eye that could introduce more bacteria to the healing infection. Unfortunately, that means it would be better to avoid wearing contacts and switch to glasses until your stye is gone.

If that is simply not an option for you, contact your healthcare provider for advice. They may give you the OK to continue wearing your contacts so long as it does not cause your stye to get worse.

Should your stye get worse, you should stop wearing your contacts right away and see your healthcare provider or eye doctor.

When to Call Your Healthcare Provider

In many cases, with home care, the stye will heal without professional help. But call your healthcare provider if your stye:

  • Persists for three or four weeks
  • Gets bigger
  • Bleeds
  • Affects your vision
  • Spreads into the white part of your eye or to your cheeks or face, creating redness

Over-the-Counter (OTC) Therapies

When styes first start, they can be treated with remedies that reduce bacteria and gently open the clogged pore so it can drain. While treating your stye at home, besides applying warm compresses, you may want to try an over-the-counter ointment, solution, or medicated pads.


Containing active ingredients of mineral oil and white petrolatum, stye ointment prevents eye irritation and temporarily relieves eye burning and irritation. This ointment cannot treat the infection associated with a stye, however, and can cause blurry vision during use. To use a stye ointment, you need to pull down the lower lid of the affected eye and put one-fourth of an inch of ointment inside the eyelid. To avoid contamination, do not touch the tip of the container to any surface and put the cap back on after use.

An artificial tears ointment can also help with stye symptoms.

Lid Scrubs

Lid scrubs contain water and other non-irritating ingredients on pre-moistened pads that remove oil and debris from the eyelids. These pre-packaged wipes reduce or eliminate the bacteria that can cause a stye, especially for those who have a condition called blepharitis, which creates itchy, flaky eyelids. Keeping your eyelids clean can prevent styes from occurring. A lid scrub can help to remove eye makeup residue that can clog the eyelid glands.


Some clogged oil glands become infected, and the stye does not heal or even gets worse. If your stye has not started healing in three to four weeks or is getting larger and more painful, your healthcare provider may prescribe a bacteria-fighting topical antibiotic ointment made specifically for the eyes.

Erythromycin Ophthalmic Ointment

Erythromycin ophthalmic ointment is usually applied up to six times per day for as many days as the healthcare provider advises. Follow the directions on your prescription label carefully, and do not use more or less of it.

Bacitracin Ophthalmic Ointment

Bacitracin ophthalmic ointment is also used for stye treatment. Before spreading a small amount of this antibiotic on the infected area, carefully wipe your eyelids with water to remove scales and crusts. This ointment can be applied one to three times per day depending on the recommendation of your physician.

Antibiotic ointments may have side effects. Call your heathcare provider if you experience:

  • Eye irritation
  • Eye redness
  • Change in eyesight or eye pain
  • Allergic reactions such as hives, swelling, and itching

Oral Antibiotics

Oral antibiotics are rarely prescribed for a stye. Sometimes antibiotic pills are prescribed if there are significant surrounding red skin patches (erythema), concern for an acute infection of the tissues surrounding the eye (periorbital cellulitis), or meibomian gland dysfunction.

They will also be prescribed after incision and drainage of a stye if you needed this procedure.

Steroid Injection

In severe cases, the doctor will inject a steroid into the stye to reduce the swelling in the eyelid. It can also promote healing and reduce pain. Steroid injections are more commonly used to treat chalazia.

Surgical and Specialist-Driven Procedures

If your stye is not healing after several weeks of warm compresses or medication, or if your stye has worsened and formed an abscess (a collection of pus), you may need to have it surgically drained. Rarely, a stye may progress to superficial cellulitis, a potentially more serious infection of the eyelid that can lead to an abscess.

The surgery is performed under local anesthesia by an ophthalmologist or oculoplastic surgeon, a doctor who specializes in reconstructive surgery in the eye area, in their office. During the procedure, the doctor will drain the abscess with a needle or another surgical instrument and may prescribe antibiotics you take by mouth for seven to 10 days.

A Word From Verywell

While styes are common and not normally serious, they can range from uncomfortable to very painful and lead to other more serious conditions that require surgery. Home remedies usually clear up the problem in a few days. Practicing good personal hygiene such as washing your hands frequently and refraining from touching your eyes can also help your stye heal faster. Contact your healthcare provider or eye doctor immediately if the redness and swelling extend beyond your eyelid to your cheek or other parts of your face.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What gets rid of a stye fast?

    Cleansing your eyelid with a gentle cleanser, applying a warm compress, and gently massaging the eyelid area can help the stye drain more quickly. In the meantime, you can use a lid scrub to clean the stye and apply a stye ointment to relieve itching and burning.

  • How long does a stye take to heal?

    Styes tend to form a pimple within five days. It can take another few days after that for it to slowly start draining.

  • Can a stye heal itself?

    Most styes do heal on their own within a week, even if you do not use any special treatments. But in some cases, the infection from one stye can spread, causing other parts of the eyelid to become red and inflamed. This may also cause more styes to form.

  • Are styes contagious?

    The bacteria that causes styes is contagious, but styes themselves are not. You cannot catch a stye simply from being around someone who has one, and it is highly unlikely that you will transfer the bacteria from your stye to someone else's eye. But you should still wash your hands often and avoid sharing pillowcases, towels, or other items that could transfer the bacteria between people.

14 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.
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  4. Weerawatanakorna M, Hung WL, Pan MH, et al. Chemistry and health beneficial effects of oolong tea and theasinensins. Food Sci Human Wellness. 2015 Dec;4(4):133-146. doi:10.1016/j.fshw.2015.10.002

  5. Stanford Health Care. Chalazion and Stye Treatment.

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By Mali Schantz-Feld
Mali Schantz-Feld is a medical journalist with over 25 years of experience covering a wide range of health, medicine, and dental topics.