What to put on a stye on your eyelid?

Have you ever woken up with what feels like a small, painful bump on your eyelid? Congratulations! You’ve got yourself a stye. But fear not – styes are quite common and can be treated in different ways, depending on their severity.

Understanding Styes

A stye is essentially an infection of the sebaceous gland that sits at the base of each eyelash. This tiny gland produces oil to lubricate our lashes and protect them from bacteria. However, when it gets infected by said bacteria or irritated by other factors (just like most things in life), such as makeup residue or dust, it becomes swollen and red – ergo, causing pain to everyone in its vicinity.

In case you’re wondering how big these suckers get- they look very similar to those lovely pimples that emerge so annoyingly when we least expect them – except this zit is all up in your grill…and if left untreated for too long some may call it “cyclops 2: the sequel”.

So here’s where it gets tricky (brace yourselves): there are two types of styes; hordeolum externum and hordeolum internum.

Hordeolum Externum

This type occurs outside of the lash line – hence “externum” meaning external (tricky right?). It usually looks much larger than Internal ones(so kinda hard to miss) since purulent (pus-like) material accumulates beneath each hair follicle which could resemble honeycomb structure under microscope.

Hordeolum Internum

As the name suggests(still with me?), this one takes place inside your eye lid…yeah uncomfortable we know.In terms of size — internal styes tend to be smaller than external ones but more difficult/painful considering their location behind your skin layer(linea alba)- Imagine playing whack-a-mole under your lid, but instead of moles its sebaceous glands!

Regardless of which one you have the treatment is basically same….so what to do? I hear you ask.

How to Treat a Stye

Once you’ve come to terms with this not-so-cute addition to your face and before any panic strikes; it’s best if we start by mentioning that most styes go away on their own within a week – without popping like zits (it’s tempting but don’t give in!).

Warm Compresses

Applying warm compresses can help alleviate the discomfort associated with your new accessory/bump on the eye. Step-by-step guide for efficient usage:

  1. Start by soaking a clean washcloth or cotton ball in hot water.
  2. Wring out excess water so everything remains moist/not dripping.
  3. Place it gently over closed eyelid – avoid pressing too hard as this can be worse than ineffective (ouch!).
  4. Rest there in tranquility(for minimum 10 minutes according to NICE UK).
  5. Repeat process several times each day…or more regularly [please wait for our comedic sound effects] Hey presto! The heat helps stimulate blood circulation and dissolve pus[insert gag reflex here]abscess together over time.

Material options- listed for people who prefer bullet points :

  • A clean wash cloth soaked in hot water
  • Boiled egg wrapped securely (but please NOT microwaved)
  • Reusable gel pack/compress-for those feeling fancy

    These materials are flexible because they mold around different shapes/ contours much better than say, heating pads–unsurprisingly- designed for back pains)

Just make sure the material is disinfected properly prior intervention!!! Think about it…do you even remember where that egg has been !?


If warm compress techniques aren’t helping, you could try using some form of medication. There are few different types available that may help relieve those swollen glands and fast-track your eyes return to normal service.

  • Antibacterial Eye Drops
    Antibiotic eye drops could also be prescribed by your optometrist or other professionals(because sharing is caring) but consider antibiotics as a last resort.[Everyone praising irises-for maintaining our ocular health- collectively cry here].

Just remember: DO NOT use over-the-counter antibiotic creams/ointments [They can prolong the healing process/prevent draining (gross)]and potentially exacerbate the condition.

  • Steroid Ointments
    The gentlest steroid ointment prescribed for handling inflammation would contain hydrocortisone – Allowing the affected area(s) to reduce in size; yet these MUST only used when advised by healthcare professional.So no roiding out like hulk without doctor’s guidance(yellow card if left untreated…two if misused).

What Not to Do

Avoid prodding/squeezing/generally disturbing any part of it! This can significantly escalate swelling and spreading the infection, plus things will look much worse than expected(you deserve that hauntingly stained pillowcase!).

TABCANAS(Try Alcohol/Baby Shampoo/Cotton Buds At Not Appropriate Sites)Warnings Against Possibility Hurting Yourself And Spreading The Infection. Please refrain from cleaning ’em with alcohol/conventional shampoo/moisturizer so as not disrupt beneficial bacteria present on healthy skin around eyes!

Final advice

Having a stye isn’t exactly ideal welcome committee(well what is?). But don’t worry too much – they’re usually painless(Unless they arent..in which case-YIKES!) and go away quickly/light without leaving lasting effects such as scarring – something we all want after an already tumultuous year or two.(thanks COVID).

Just remember to stick with warm compresses/medication recommendations/if given by healthcare professionals(and always research before doing anything). And if your sty becomes worse or if you experience long-term/chronic styes…you may want seek some serious help from medical professionals.

Stay safe…and away from styes!

TL;DR(list of headings)

  • Understanding Styes
    • Hordeolum Externum
    • Hordeolum Internum
  • How to Treat a Stye
    • Warm Compresses
      • Material options
    • Medication
      • Antibacterial Eye Drops
      • Steroid Ointments
  • What Not to do
    TABCANAS(Try Alcohol/Baby Shampoo/Cotton buds At Not Appropriate Sites)
  • Final advice

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