10 stye home remedies

By Ann Simmons, Brenda Md Article Sources

Styes are painful, pimple-like bumps that form on the edge of the eyelid. They’re typically caused when dirt or oil builds up around the tiny glands surrounding the eyelid. This buildup can grow bacteria, resulting in an uncomfortable infection.[[1]] In most cases, a stye will go away on its own in 1 or 2 weeks.[[2]] However, this period can be fraught with pain and the stress of an unsightly blemish. Here are 10 home remedies for styes to help you speed up the healing process without a visit to the doctor.

Warm Compress

Warm compresses are one of the most effective stye home remedies. Simply hold a damp, warm cloth over the affected eye for 10 to 15 minutes. Press firmly, but not hard enough to pop the stye. To keep the cloth warm, rewet it and ring it out as often as necessary. The cloth’s warmth, along with light pressure, will coax the pus to the surface, encouraging the stye to drain quickly.

orange and white folded towels


Remove Contact Lenses

For a stye to clear up quickly, it’s essential to remove any irritants that might interrupt the healing process. Inserting and removing contact lenses — and the strain of wearing them all day — can increase discomfort and cause styes to take longer to heal. Opting for eyeglasses can prevent the bacteria in a stye from spreading, and the extra breathing room allows it to heal as quickly as possible.

contact lens on a finger with contact lens packaging, case, and tweezers on a table


Clean the Eyelid

Since styes contain bacteria, a buildup of oil or dirt along the eye may cause the condition to spread. To prevent this, the eye should be kept clean and free from extra blockage. To clean the eye, mix hypoallergenic soap with warm water, and gently scrub the area with a finger or cotton swab. Continuing to clean the eye regularly after it heals may help to prevent more styes from forming in the future.

person over a sink rinsing eyes with water


Over-the-Counter Pain Relievers

Styes can inflame the area around the eye, causing irritation and pain. When the discomfort becomes too much to bear, an over-the-counter pain reliever can provide some much-needed relief. Ibuprofen is a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory (NSAID) that can reduce the inflammation and pain caused by styes.[[3]] Acetaminophen may also provide relief, especially when used in tandem with the other stye home remedies on this list.

pills on a table with bottle and box in the background


Skip the Makeup

To help the stye heal quickly, it’s important to avoid makeup. Makeup can cause further blockage along the eyelid, which may prevent a stye from healing. Plus, cosmetic brushes and sponges can capture bacteria and cause spreading. To reduce the risk of styes in the future, cleaning makeup brushes regularly is essential. Throwing out expired makeup can also prevent the growth and spread of bacteria.

makeup brushes and products on a table


Light Massage

Drainage is part of the healing process for styes.[[4]] Massaging the area with clean hands and light pressure can often encourage the stye to drain sooner than it would on its own. When massaging a stye, it’s important to avoid applying too much pressure, as popping it can make the healing process even longer. A light massage may be even more effective when combined with the use of a warm compress.

person laying down on their back receiving a face massage


Warm Tea Bags

Warm tea bags work similarly to cloth compresses, but they have an additional benefit: Some tea blends — such as black tea — are thought to have antibacterial properties, which can fight infection and reduce inflammation.[[5]] To make a warm tea compress, steep a tea bag in boiling water for a few minutes. Once the bag has cooled slightly, apply it to the affected eye for up to 10 minutes.

dry tea bag on a surface


Topical Ointment

If a stye is particularly painful, an over-the-counter topical ointment might provide some quick relief. Topical ointments can also speed up the healing process. It’s important to select an ointment that’s specifically designed for use near the eyes. Ointments that contain whitening agents or steroids should be avoided, as they may damage the area’s sensitive skin. Apply ointment in small amounts using a finger or cotton swab near the stye.

white tube on green leaves on a wooden surface


Avoid Popping the Stye

Popping a stye can be tempting, especially when it causes discomfort. However, popping a stye before it’s ready to drain can release bacterial pus, resulting in a bigger infection. It also prolongs the healing process. Resisting the temptation to pop a stye will lead to a faster healing time and less pain overall. If the urge to pop is strong, the other home remedies on this list may provide enough relief to resist it.

person touching their eye in pain


Aloe Vera

Used medicinally for centuries, the aloe vera plant can provide some quick relief for painful styes.[[6]] Upon application, the plant’s soothing qualities may reduce itchiness and inflammation, making the stye easier to endure until it heals. Aloe vera can be applied several times per day as a quick solution for discomfort. It’s important to apply aloe carefully around the eyelid to avoid getting it inside the eye, which may cause discomfort.

pieces of aloe vera cross sections on a white place


The information provided is for educational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Consult a qualified healthcare provider before starting any program. Reliance on any information is solely at your own risk. In case of a medical emergency, call 911 or go to the nearest emergency room.

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