Becky Yoza, DNP

Becky has 14 years combined experience in medical/surgical and emergency nursing. She also teaches undergraduate and graduate nursing at Hawaii Pacific University. Originally a sociologist, Becky trained as a nurse to gain knowledge for her research, but she ended up loving nursing so much she never went back! Born and raised in Michigan, Becky has lived in Hawaii since 2010 and never wants to leave.



A stye is a painful eye infection of the eyelid. It is small pus-filled a spot on the eyelid. Styes usually get better on their own, however hot compresses can help ease the pain.

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It usually affects only one eye however, the eyelid could have more than one stye at a time. Additionally, a stye could be external (common) or internal (uncommon).

External styles appear on the edge of the eyelid. Infections in the root of an eyelash cause this type of styes. It starts as a small red spot but soon becomes yellow and pus-filled. An internal stye is caused because of an infection of a gland in the eyelid. It is visible from the outside only as a swelling of the eyelid.


Staphylococcus aureus is the bacteria that causes the infection. It is usually a harmless bacterium on the skin. However, if this bacteria get into the skin, it can cause infections. If you have a condition called blepharitis, you could be more prone to having styes.


Treatment usually includes the following, for example:

  • Usually need no treatment and become better within 3-4 days.
  • Hot compresses can help.
  • Avoid wearing contact lenses and eye make-up. Discard any eye makeup used while the stye was forming.
  • Taking antibiotics is not recommended.

Are styes contagious?

Styes are painful eye infection. They can be contagious. To minimize the chances of spreading the infection:

  • Do not share towels or other clothes
  • Wash hands regularly, particularly after touching your eyes and face
  • Avoid sharing eye makeup

Are there any complications?

Most styes are very minor infections that clear within a few days by themselves. Sometimes the infection may spread to the surface of the eye, causing conjunctivitis. If this happens, you must contact your doctor. Also, if you notice red-eye, swollen eye or fever contact your doctor.

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