Stye (Boil on Eyelid): Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis, Treatment

stye on eyelid pictures

A Boil on the eyelid, more commonly known as Stye or Hordeolum, is an infection that affects the oil glands in the eyelid causing a red and tender bump.

Many people use the term “Boil” to describe a skin infection that may start in a hair follicle or an oil gland.

At first, the skin surrounding the affected area will turn red and develop into tender bumps filled with pus because of the white blood cells rushing to that area to fight off this infection.

In the case of Styes, the infection can occur at the base of an eyelash’s follicle (which doctors call an External Hordeolum) or within a small oil gland of the lid (which doctors call an Internal Hordeolum).


More often than not, the driving force behind the development of this condition is an infection.

Some experts consider a germ known as the “staphylococcal bacteria” as the cause of such an infection.

These bacteria are likely to enter the body through small cuts on the skin and travel down to a hair follicle. That results in a red pimple on the margin of the eyelid.

However, there other elements capable of causing the inflammation seen in cases of Styes.

For example, the eyelid has several oil glands around. Make-up, dust, or small debris could get stuck in into these glands and end up clogging them.

Because of that, the secreted can’t drain, and instead, it goes back to the gland, which leads to inflammation and the development of a reddened bump.

This condition can affect anyone. However, some factors increase the risk of developing Styes, such as a second outbreak in the case of patients who already suffered from these boils.

People who once suffered from cysts on the eyelids, more specifically in a meibomian gland, are prone to developing Styes at some point of their lives.

Other risk factors usually associated with Styes are skin conditions such as Rosacea (a chronic disease featuring redness and pimples) and Dermatitis (an Eczema that causes inflammation of the skin).

Some medical issues and metabolic disorders like Diabetes can also lead to the development of this condition.


More often than not, these boils appear in one eye at a time. In some odd cases, Styes can affect both eyes at the same time.

The early symptoms of this skin condition are usually mild; they may include some degree of discomfort or redness in the affected area. Some patients may experience irritation along the lash line.

As Styes develop, the signs will become more noticeable. The easiest to perceive is a red pimple or bump along the eyelid, with a small yellow spot in the middle due to the accumulation of pus.

The discomfort becomes more intense as the pimple-like bump grows. Some people even display oversensitiveness to light and excessive tear production.

Another symptom typical to the boil in the eyelid is eye discharge or crustiness around the affected area.

However, unlike other similar conditions, the Styes are usually hard and painless.


Medical experts usually recommend performing a physical examination to confirm the presence of Styes in the eyelid.

More often than not, people base such a diagnosis on the symptoms displayed and the physical evaluation of the affected area.


In most cases, a boil in the eyelid may disappear in the span of one to three weeks.

Given this condition doesn’t represent any threat to the life of the patient, people can treat it without resorting to medical consultation in the case of more persistent or recurrent styes.

Patients can even make use of some of the techniques meant to deal with infected pimples to get rid of Styes.

For example, people can use some antibiotics in the form of eye drops or ointments to treat this condition.

In the particular case of an Internal Hordeolum, the recommendation is using antibiotics in the form of pills.

Some patients can drain the pus out of the boil to obtain some relief from the discomfort brought by this condition and get rid of Styes at a much faster rate.

People should take a folded clean cloth and use it as a compress. Heat some water, dip the compress in the warm liquid, and and then wring it out until it’s barely dripping.

The next step is to gently hold it to the affected area during 10 to 15 minutes, four times a day for 2 to 3 days.

If a boil that is affecting the oil glands beneath the surface of the middle of the eyelid doesn’t begin to drain at the beginning of the treatment, people must avoid squeezing it dry.

Squeezing such Styes will only spread the infection and lead to more severe skin conditions.

However, if patients don’t notice any improvement after three weeks of treatment they should see a doctor.