A stye is a common and acute bacterial infection of the sebaceous and sweat glands in the eyelid.


A stye is a common and acute bacterial infection of the sebaceous and sweat glands in the eyelid. Usually, a painful red swelling quickly develops, either on or inside the eyelid or around the eye. Most styes resolve spontaneously. Never squeeze and try to burst a stye yourself.


  • Small, painful and inflamed red lump on the eyelid
  • Lump is filled with pus
    • Can spontaneously drain after a few days
    • The inflammation will then clear up
  • Complications:

Causes and treatment


  • Acute bacterial infection of the sebaceous and/or sweat glands of the eyelids
  • Caused by skin germs: usually staphylococcus, sometimes streptococcus
  • Risk factors

Further treatment by your doctor / in hospital

Possible tests
  • External examination of the eye
Possible therapies
  • Antibiotics
    • Antibiotic eye drops (topical application)
    • For abscess/severe inflammation: antibiotics in tablet form or intravenously
  • Treatment with heat and infrared light
    • Moist warm compresses aren't recommended (can worsen the infection)
  • Opening of abscess under local anaesthetic

What can I do myself?

  • Hand hygiene
    • Children: wash the hands often, in particular after playing outside
  • If a child in the family has contracted the infection, the following hygiene measures should be followed:
    • All family members should wash their hands often
    • Each person should use their own towel
    • Don't squeeze the stye as this will worsen the situation

When to see a doctor?

  • Entire eyelid is swollen
  • Additional symptoms such as feeling ill, headaches, fever or swollen lymph nodes
  • Growing pressure pain because the pus doesn't drain
  • People who wear contact lenses should always consult a doctor if they have an infection affecting the eyes


stye, hordeolum

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Exclusion of liability

CSS offers no guarantee for the accuracy and completeness of the information. The information published is no substitute for professional advice from a doctor or pharmacist.

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