How to Get Rid of a Stye: Remedies and Treatments

Reviewed by Dan Brennan, MD on November 20, 2020

A stye is a red, hot, and tender bump on the outer (and sometimes inner) edge of your eyelid. Its appearance is similar to that of a pimple or a boil. Also spelled "sty," this bump occurs when old oil, dead skin cells, or old bacteria block one of your oil glands. It can be painful and may cause your eyelid to swell or tear up.

Styes should go away in a couple of days and shouldn't affect your vision. However, there are remedies you can do from home that will help relieve your pain and discomfort.

Remedies and Treatments for Styes

Apply a Warm Compress

The quickest, safest, and most effective way to get rid of a stye at home is to apply some sort of warm compress. All you have to do is heat up filtered water, soak a clean cloth in the water, and then put it over your affected eye with your eye closed. For the best results, keep the compress on for 10 to 15 minutes and repeat the process 2 to 4 times a day for several days. 

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After you apply the compress, you can use your clean finger to gently massage the stye in order to unplug the oil gland. This not only helps the stye go away more quickly, but it can also alleviate some of your pain and inflammation.

Some people suggest soaking a tea bag in warm water and using it as a compress instead of a cloth. However, there is no evidence that this works any better than a clean washcloth.

Use Coconut Oil

Coconut oil is used for a variety of reasons, and promoting eye health is one of them. One of the main ways coconut oil helps treat styes is by lessening inflammation. In addition to having anti-inflammatory effects, coconut oil is antibacterial and antifungal. It's also completely safe to use around your eyes. 

To use this remedy, put a small amount of coconut oil onto a cotton swab or your clean finger, and then lightly rub it onto your affected eyelid. Wait 15 minutes before rinsing the oil off with warm water. For the best results, repeat this process 3 to 5 times daily.

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Ditch Your Contact Lenses

Although contact lenses don't cause styes, they can easily get contaminated with the bacteria associated with them. For this reason, if you normally wear contact lenses, you should try to go without them until your stye heals. In the meantime, wear glasses if you have them. After your stye goes away, you should order new contacts. 

While you're at it, you should temporarily stop using eye makeup, too. To prevent further irritation or infection, you'll want to keep the area around your stye clean and uncovered.

Keep Your Eye Clean

Although you can find over-the-counter ointments and other solutions to keep your eye free of irritants, you can also just use baby shampoo. This mild natural soap is so safe that it won't even cause any burning or irritation if it gets inside your eye.

To use this remedy, mix a few drops of baby shampoo into warm water and use a cotton swab to gently brush the solution onto your stye. This is also an effective method to prevent styes.

When to See a Doctor

Most styes are harmless. However, you should reach out to your doctor if your stye doesn't show any signs of improvement after 48 hours, or if the redness and swelling extends to your entire eyelid or onto other parts of your face. 

WebMD Medical Reference

Sources

SOURCES: 

American Academy of Ophthalmology: "Can warm tea bag compresses help reduce infections of the eye?"

Cleveland Clinic: "Styes — How to Treat Them, How to Avoid Them."

Cleveland Clinic: “Sty (Stye): Management and Treatment).”

Eye Love Cares: "Coconut Oil For Blepharitis? Can It Work For You?"

KidsHealth: "Styes."

Mayo Clinic: "Sty."

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