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Alternative Names Return to topBump on the eyelid; Stye
Definition Return to top
Most bumps on the eyelid are styes. A stye is an inflamed oil gland on the edge of your eyelid, where the lash meets the lid. It appears as a red, swollen bump that looks like a pimple. It is tender, especially to the touch.
Causes Return to top
A stye is caused by bacteria from the skin that get into the oil glands in the eyelids that provide lubrication to the tear film. Styes are similar to common acne pimples that occur elsewhere on the skin. You may have more than one stye at the same time.
Styes usually develop over a few days and may drain and heal on their own. A stye can become a chalazion -- this is when an inflamed oil gland becomes fully blocked. If a chalazion gets large enough, it can cause trouble with your vision.
If you have blepharitis (see eye redness), you are more likely to get styes.
Other possible eyelid bumps include:
Symptoms Return to top
In addition to the red, swollen bump, other possible symptoms include:
Exams and Tests Return to top
A doctor can diagnose a stye just by looking at it. Special tests are usually not necessary.
Treatment Return to top
Outlook (Prognosis) Return to top
Styes often get better on their own. However, they may recur. The outcome is generally excellent with simple treatment.
Possible Complications Return to top
When to Contact a Medical Professional Return to top
Call your doctor if:
Prevention Return to top
Always wash your hands thoroughly before touching the skin around your eye. If you are susceptible to styes, it may help to carefully clean off excess oils from the edges of your lids.
References Return to top
Mueller JB, McStay CM. Ocular infection and inflammation. Emerg Med Clin North Am. 2008;26:57-72.
Rubenstein JB, Jick SL. Disorders of the conjunctiva and limbus. In: Yanoff M, Duker JS, Augsburger JJ, et al, eds. Ophthalmology. 2nd ed. Philadelphia, Pa:Mosby Elsevier; 2004:chap 55.
Neff AG, Carter KD. Benign eye lesions. In: Yanoff M, Duker JS, Augsburger JJ, et al, eds. Ophthalmology. 2nd ed. Philadelphia, Pa:Mosby Elsevier; 2004:chap 92.Update Date: 11/10/2008 Updated by: Linda Vorvick, MD, Family Physician, Seattle Site Coordinator, Lecturer, Pathophysiology, MEDEX Northwest Division of Physician Assistant Studies, University of Washington School of Medicine. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.