How to Avoid Getting a Stye

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A stye (or hordeolum) occurs on the eyelid when an eyelash follicle or a gland becomes clogged with oil or dirt. A stye looks like a small red pimple, usually with a yellowish surface. Styes can be painful and annoying, usually causing the eye to tear excessively. The tell-tale symptom of a stye includes redness and swelling of the eyelid at the base of the eyelash as the infection grows and pus forms within the follicle. Tenderness and pain sometimes develop on the eyelid and is particularly noticeable upon blinking the eye. A white head of pus sometimes develops, eventually bursting and draining.

The life cycle of a stye is about one week; it takes about that long for the pain and inflammation in the eyelid to dissipate.

If you are prone to developing styes, the following tips may help you avoid them altogether:


Styes often develop in times of stress. College students cramming for exams often wake up with a stye. During times of stress, our bodies excrete certain chemicals and hormones that may play a role in developing styes. Because stress is unavoidable in life, it is important to find ways to reduce or prevent stressful incidents and strive to decrease negative reactions to stress. Try to find ways to keep your stress level at a minimum. Relaxation exercises and yoga are very helpful to some people in minimizing stress from their lives.

Keep It Clean

Do you keep your eyes clean? Clogged glands that line the eyelid can become infected and possibly develop into a stye. Take time daily to properly clean your face, gently washing your eyelids to remove excess debris. Never fall asleep without removing your eye makeup. Residue from cosmetics can easily clog the glands of the eyelids.

Avenova, produced by NovaBay Pharmaceuticals, is a daily eyelid and eyelash hygiene system that is easy to apply and very effective. Avenova contains pure hypochlorous acid 0.01%. Hypochlorous acid is a naturally occurring chemical that is released by neutrophils (white blood cells) to destroy organisms and their neutralized toxins. OCuSOFT produces HypoChlor Spray and Gel (Hypochlorous Acid 0.02%) and they are also effective at disinfecting and keeping the eyelid margin clean.


If you are prone to blepharitis—an inflammatory condition due to staph and demodex that produces itchy, flaky eyelids—put yourself on a schedule of weekly or even daily eyelid washes. Pre-packaged and pre-medicated eyelid wipes are available in stores, making it easy to scrub the eyelids to reduce or eliminate bacteria that cause blepharitis, reducing the chance of developing a stye. Tear-free baby shampoo applied to a warm washcloth is a less-expensive alternative and makes a great eye scrub.

Commercially prepared eyelid scrubs are available as well and come in several different varieties. Ocusoft Eyelid Scrubs produced by Ocusoft contain a surfactant formulation that dissolves eyelid oils. Cliradex, produced by Bio-Tissue, is a natural, preservative-free eyelid and eyelash cleanser that is effective against blepharitis but can also be used to clean the face after makeup removal. Cliradex uses a moist towelette in individual packages to deliver melaleuca altenifolia, a type of tea tree oil to the eyelid and eyelashes.


Right before bed, apply a warm compress or washcloth soaked in very warm water to your eyes for 5 to 10 minutes. Other methods have been used in the past, such as heating a compress made with dry rice in the microwave. This type of compress seems to hold their heat longer. However, extreme care must be taken. Never heat it to the point where it might burn your skin and cause serious injury.

A Word From Verywell

It is common for styes to recur. If you tend to have frequent styes, it's important to keep the skin on your eyelids clean. Good hygiene goes a long way in preventing unwanted styes, as well as other miserable eye conditions.

If you keep developing styes, your eye doctor may want to prescribe an antibiotic ointment to help prevent a recurrence. He or she also might recommend using pre-moistened eyelid cleaning pads for daily lid hygiene, to reduce the risk of styes and blepharitis. If you do develop a stye, don't despair. Keep in mind that most styes go away on their own and it won't be long before your eye feels normal again. 

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