A stye is a painful red bump that appears on the eyelid. This bump is typically filled with pus and will eventually rupture. The rupture and release of pus usually lead to alleviation of associated pain. A stye is often caused by a type of bacteria called staphylococcus. Signs and symptoms include eyelid swelling, sensitivity to light, and tearing. Typically a stye will not affect vision. However, as the stye swells it may affect the ability to see clearly. It is possible for more than one stye to develop at the same time. Blepharitis, or inflammation of the eyelid, may occur as a result of multiple sties occurring at the same time.
Although a stye usually will disappear on its own in a few days, medications are available to treat this condition. A topical antibiotic, such as sulfacetamide, may be prescribed to treat the bacterial infection. In addition, a warm compress may be applied to the affected area for 10 minutes at a time, four times a day. This may help to alleviate the associated pain, as well as to cause the stye to rupture and drain sooner. Although a stye is not very contagious, good hand-washing techniques and avoiding touching the affected area are recommended. Children should be encouraged to follow these recommendations, as this age group may be more likely to develop a stye.