April 24, 2017


What are the risk factors for a sty (stye)?

The most common risk factor is sluggish outflow of the sebum from the meibomian glands, which is commonly seen in a chronic inflammatory condition called meibomian gland dysfunction (also commonly called meibomitis). Meibomian gland dysfunction is frequently associated with acne rosacea on the cheeks and nose but can also be seen alone.

Other risks include obstruction of the gland's opening by scar tissue following infections, burns, or trauma. Foreign substances such as makeup and dust can also clog the gland's opening if not properly washed away.

Are styes contagious?

Styes are not contagious.

What are sty (stye) symptoms and signs?

The symptoms of a sty are

  • foreign body sensation in the eye (particularly with blinking),
  • eye pressure, and
  • sometimes pain in the area of the bump.

There may also be blurred vision if thick sebum or pus from within the sty spreads over the eye's surface.

Signs of a sty include

  • presence of a red lump or bump on the edge of the eyelid,
  • swelling, and
  • puffy appearance of the eyelid.

If the sty is draining material from the gland's opening, there may be thick discharge or crusty material accumulating on the lids and lashes. In some cases, the skin overlying the sty will become thinned and the thick material within the sty (pus) may ooze out through a break in the skin. Watery tears can also be produced in response to irritation and pain.

Reviewed on 5/27/2016
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