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Are Styes Contagious?

Styes (or hordeolum) are painful lumps that form on the eyelids. Many people wonder if styes are contagious and how they can prevent spreading them. In this article, we will explore the contagiousness of styes, the causes, symptoms, preventive measures, and so on.

What Are Styes (Hordeolum)?

Styes are localized infections of eyelid glands or hair follicles caused by bacteria which typically reside on our skin but can enter oil glands and hair follicles to create inflammation leading to painful lumps called styes. Styes can appear either externally (external stye), internally (internal stye), appear as pimples or boils and vary in size from both forms.

Causes Of Styes

Styes can often result from poor eyelid hygiene, leading to bacteria gathering on oil glands or hair follicles and infecting them with infection. Factors which increase risk for developing styes include:

  • Touching or rubbing eyes with unwashed hands
  • Using cosmetics with known bacteria contaminations or makeup applicators with known contamination issues
  • Sharing towels or pillowcases with an infected individual or people living together in close quarters.

Furthermore, certain conditions like blepharitis, dry eyes can increase chances of getting them.

Are Styes Contagious?

Symptoms of Styes

A stye typically presents as an uncomfortable lump on an eyelid. Other common signs include eyelid swelling, redness, tenderness and sometimes yellowish pustules in its center which indicate its presence. Styes can lead to discomfort, irritation and feeling as though there’s foreign body in one or both eyes as well as light sensitivity and excessive tears production; in rare instances where they affect corneas they may result in blurry vision as a consequence.

Are Styes Contagious?

Styes can be contagious, though their risk of spreading is usually low. Direct contact with infected areas – touching or squeezing it can spread the bacteria causing styes – but most often they develop due to internal sources rather than outside ones; good hygiene practices will reduce any chance of spread and can reduce infection in others or throughout oneself.

Are Styes Contagious?

Preventive Measures

In order to stop the spread of styes, proper eyelid hygiene must be maintained:

  • Avoid touching or rubbing your eyes with unwashed hands as doing so could introduce bacteria into oil glands or hair follicles and further spread contamination risk.
  • Clean towels, pillowcases and makeup brushes should also help decrease risks of contamination while discard old or expired eye makeup products as soon as they come into contact with eyes and avoid sharing towels or cosmetics that come into contact with eyes with others.

Treatment for Styes

Treating styes typically entails both self-care measures and medical intervention, although in most instances self-care alone will suffice. Most should resolve on their own within a week or two without additional interventions being needed; nevertheless these remedies could provide temporary relief and speed up healing:

Warm Compresses

A warm compress for your eyes can be one of the most effective methods of treating styes, helping increase circulation to promote drainage of the infection. Simply soak a clean washcloth in hot water before placing it over your closed eyelid for 10-15 minutes at least several times daily until the symptoms disappear.

Keep Your Eyelid Clean

Eyelid hygiene can play an essential part in helping prevent infection and promote healing. A mild non-irritating cleanser or baby shampoo, mixed with warm water can be used to gently scrub the base of eyelashes using either cotton swabs or clean finger tips before being rinsed thoroughly and pat dried after each application.

Avoid Squeezing Or Popping

Avoid self-treating your stye by squeezing, popping or draining on your own as this could worsen or complicate infection further.

Antibiotic Ointments

Healthcare professionals may prescribe antibiotic ointments or eye drops as part of a treatment plan to combat infection. Such medication can speed the healing process and decrease further spread. Care should be taken when following dosage instructions provided by healthcare providers.

Oral Antibiotics

For severe or persistent cases that do not respond to other treatments, oral antibiotics may be administered for treating the bacterial infection responsible. They should typically only be prescribed in extreme circumstances.

Good Hygiene Practices

Adopting good hygiene practices can help decrease your chances of styes, and lower their recurrence risk. Avoid touching or rubbing your eyes with unwashed hands; remove makeup before going to sleep; and routinely clean eyeglasses or contact lenses.

It’s important to consult with a healthcare professional, if the stye persists, becomes increasingly painful, affects your vision, or if you develop additional symptoms such as fever or swelling of the surrounding area. They can provide a proper diagnosis and recommend the most appropriate treatment for your specific situation.


Styes can rarely spread, due to bacteria and factors like poor hygiene or using contaminated items. While self-care measures may help alleviate symptoms and promote healing, medical intervention may be required for severe or recurring cases. Implementing good hygiene practices while seeking professional advice as necessary are the keys to effectively managing styes.


Can Contact Lenses Cause Styes?

While contact lenses themselves do not directly cause styes, improper handling or poor hygiene when wearing or caring for contact lenses increases your risk for them causing inflammation in the eye, thus necessitating proper hygiene practices to minimize such risk. Therefore it’s crucial that proper hygiene guidelines for wearing and caring for lens are observed for maximum efficacy and minimal risks are incurred by following care instructions as directed to minimize these chances.

When should I visit my doctor about a stye?

For most styes, home management with warm compresses and proper hygiene should suffice, however it may be prudent to seek professional medical assistance if symptoms worsen, become increasingly painful, affect vision or do not heal within one week. A healthcare professional can provide proper diagnosis as well as treatments, such as antibiotic ointments or drainage as necessary.

What Treatment Options Exist for Styes?

The mainstay for treating styes involves warm compresses applied several times each day on the affected eyelid to promote drainage and soothe symptoms, without popping or squeezing as this could aggravate infection further. Occasionally a healthcare professional will prescribe antibiotic ointments or oral antibiotics in addition to warming compresses in order to manage an outbreak of this nature.

Can Styes Recur?

Yes, styes can recur if their causes remain unchecked and untreated. To reduce risk of recurrence it is vital to practice good eyelid hygiene by not touching or rubbing eyes excessively as well as discard old/contaminated makeup products that come in contact with eyes. In cases of persistent or recurring styes it would be prudent to visit an eye specialist for evaluation and management advice.

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