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Written by Healthwords's team of doctors and pharmacists based in UK | Updated: 10.05.2023 | 2 min read

A stye is a tiny painful lump on the lash line of your upper or lower eyelid caused by a bacteria. It can look like a little pimple – red or with a white/yellow centre, and can cause lots of red inflammation and swelling around it.

It may cause your eyes to water, but it should not affect your vision.

It does not usually require treatment and gets better on its own after a week or two. You can relieve the pain and swelling with a cool flannel, and you can keep the area clean and encourage any discharge out with a warm water compress – soak a flannel with warm water and press against the eye for 5 minutes three or four times a day.

Doctor’s advice

Is it contagious?

This can be contagious to the other eye or transferring from the upper to lower lid, so you should avoid rubbing your eyes and should wash your hands and flannels after handling each eye.

Caidr pharmacists' top tips

If there is discomfort due to rubbing of the lids against the eyeball, an ointment such as 'Goldeneye 0.15%' eye ointment may help to provide some lubrication and makes things a little more comfortable if needed. It also contains an antibacterial agent which can help to kill potential bacteria that can lead to a worse infection.

Pharmacist recommended products

Am I fit for work?

You are fit for work if you have a stye.

When should I see my doctor?

A stye does not usually require antibiotics. You should see your doctor if you are unsure of the diagnosis – this is less likely to be a stye if you have a swelling but there is no pain, or pain without swelling. You should also book an appointment if there is no improvement after one to two weeks.

You should see your doctor with urgency if you have reduced or blurry vision (after clearing any tears).

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