June 14, 2023/Eye Care

Why You Shouldn’t Pop a Stye

Doing so can cause a severe infection, damage to your eyelid or even a corneal abrasion

person rubbing their eye

Oh my, you’ve got a stye.

Advertisement

Cleveland Clinic is a non-profit academic medical center. Advertising on our site helps support our mission. We do not endorse non-Cleveland Clinic products or services. Policy

Regardless of how you got the stye — maybe you rubbed your eyes with dirty hands, used expired or contaminated cosmetics or shared eye makeup — you’re now left with a painful red bump on the edge of your eyelid.

“A stye forms when bacteria enter the oil glands in the eyelids. This leads to inflammation, as well as the formation of a painful lump,” explains family physician Matthew Goldman, MD. “Also known as a hordeolum, a stye is typically caused specifically by Staphylococcus aureus bacteria.”

In addition to pain and discomfort, a stye can literally be an eyesore, making you want to do everything you can do to get rid of it.

So, should you pop a stye? While there are a variety of home remedies you can use to alleviate symptoms, like crusting along the eyelid — you should think twice before you attempt popping your stye.

Dr. Goldman explains why popping a stye isn’t such a good idea and what you should do instead.

Can you pop a stye?

Don’t give in to your temptation to pop a stye, urges Dr. Goldman.

“It’s best to avoid squeezing and/or attempting to pop a stye on your own due to potential risks and complications,” he says.

And while it may not be the answer you were hoping for, if you sit tight and try other home remedies, like applying a warm compress, you’ll more than likely see results soon.

“A stye will usually resolve within one to two weeks with proper home care,” says Dr. Goldman. “The exact amount of time for healing can vary depending on the severity of the stye and the individual.”

Potential risks of popping a stye

Styes are very common, affecting all races, sexes and ages — though adults are more prone to blockage.

But what happens if you do pop a stye? Though it may be tempting to pop a stye, doing so comes with potential risks like:

You also want to refrain from rubbing or touching your eyelid and avoid wearing makeup or contact lenses until the stye has gone away.

What to do instead

Try the following remedies to alleviate symptoms and encourage healing instead of attempting to squeeze and/or pop a stye:

  • Use a clean, warm compress on the affected eyelid for at least 10 to 15 minutes several times a day. This will help reduce pain and promote drainage of the stye.
  • Use a mild soap or baby shampoo diluted in warm water to clean your eyelids gently with a clean cotton swab or washcloth.
  • Avoid using contact lenses or eye makeup until the stye has healed.
  • Before touching your eyes or applying any remedies, wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water.

Advertisement

If a stye persists and forms a noninfectious lump caused by blockage and inflammation of an oil gland called a chalazion, surgical drainage may be considered. But surgery is rarely necessary.

“Consider seeing a healthcare provider if a stye doesn’t improve within one to two weeks with home remedies, becomes extremely painful or affects your vision, is a recurrent issue and/or you develop fever or experience any concerning symptoms,” advises Dr. Goldman.

Advertisement

Learn more about our editorial process.

Related Articles

eye stye
June 11, 2023/Eye Care
How To Get Rid of That Pesky Stye

Keep your eyes clean and try to stay makeup- and contacts-free

Adult receiving eye drops from a healthcare provider
May 10, 2024/Eye Care
When Is It Too Late To Treat Lazy Eye?

While it’s best to fix amblyopia during childhood, it can also be addressed as an adult

Person vacuuming around living room
April 17, 2024/Eye Care
5 Tips for Coping With Geographic Atrophy

Preserving your social life and protecting your mental health are key to living well with vision loss

Person holding up sunglasses
April 16, 2024/Eye Care
9 Tips for Living Well With Geographic Atrophy

Start low-vision rehabilitation as soon as possible and see your retina specialist at least every six months

Colorblind glasses showing houses on shoreline in color
April 11, 2024/Eye Care
What We Know About Color Blind Glasses

These trendy glasses might brighten some shades and help you see the difference between colors or brightness of hues, but they won’t cure your color vision deficiency

Person with pink eye
March 22, 2024/Eye Care
Here’s How To Get Rid of Pink Eye Fast

Eye drops and cold water rinses can help speed up healing for viral and allergen-related conjunctivitis, but a bacterial infection will need antibiotics

Eye doctor holding glasses and a prescription
March 20, 2024/Eye Care
Got a New Eye Prescription? Here’s What It Means

Your eye prescription reveals a lot about your eye health, including how they’re shaped, how well you see and what your new glasses can do for your sight

person holding wearing glasses, holding cell phone and rubbing their eye
March 18, 2024/Eye Care
The Dangers of Rubbing Itchy Eyes

From scratching your cornea and tearing your retina to introducing allergens and causing infections, pawing at your peepers just doesn’t pay off

Trending Topics

Person in yellow tshirt and blue jeans relaxing on green couch in living room reading texts on their phone.
Here’s How Many Calories You Naturally Burn in a Day

Your metabolism may torch 1,300 to 2,000 calories daily with no activity

woman snacking on raisins and nuts
52 Foods High In Iron

Pump up your iron intake with foods like tuna, tofu and turkey

Ad