Styes are localized infections in the eyelid. They often appear as small red bumps along the edge of the eyelid near the lash line. Styes occur when bacteria get into the base of an eyelash or one of the small oil glands inside the eyelid.

Styes are caused by staphylococcal bacteria and are contagious. It is important not to rub the stye, and to always wash your hands before and after touching your eye area to avoid introducing more bacteria to your eye or your environment. Typically, styes do not cause vision problems, but they can be tender or painful. You should never attempt to “pop” a stye, and most of the time, they will clear up on their own.

If you have frequent, recurring styes, you should speak to your optometrist. While many people get styes over their lifetime, they should not frequently be happening. If this is the case, the doctor might prescribe an antibiotic ointment and special eyelid cleaning pads to reduce the risk of repeated incidences.