What Causes a Stye

Max. D Gray
By Max. D Gray. Updated: January 20, 2017
What Causes a Stye

The swellings that sometimes appear on the upper or lower eyelids are known as styes. Some of these fatty lumps can be very uncomfortable and cause discomfort for the sufferer. Styes are contagious, so you should always try to avoid the infection and the spreading and understand how to cure it. To do so, it's important that you learn what causes a stye so you can prevent them. Read on this OneHowTo article to find out.

You may also be interested in: Why do Styes Keep Coming Back?

Steps to follow:


Styes are localised inflammations of the glands found at the edge of the eyelids, caused by a bacterial infection. We must highlight that there are external and internal styes, and these last are more painful and more difficult to cure.


Normally styes are caused by bacteria on the skin , such as staphylococcus. For this reason, infections are difficult to prevent and the first symptoms appear once the infection has started.


The infection can trigger either an external stye, which affects the hair follicles of the eyelashes, or an internal stye, which affects the sebaceous glands, such as the meibomian glands, located inside the eye.

External styes usually start with a small spot next to one eyelash and then it turns into a red swelling. This swelling lasts for some days before it bursts and then heals.

Internal styes also cause a red, painful swelling, but since it's located in the interior of the eyelid, the whitehead doesn't appear in it. Internal styes may disappear once the infection is passed, but they can also lead to more serious problems and leave a cyst or nodule that will have to be opened and drained.

What Causes a Stye - Step 3

This inflammation of the eyelids may also be triggered by seborrheic dermatitis, an allergy or, in children, by lice on the eyelashes. Rubbing the eyelids can also often trigger the infection that causes styes.


There is no specific causes of styes, but it's true that frequently rubbing the eyelids, especially with dirty hands, or inadequate hygiene may contribute to the formation of styes due to the amount of bacteria in the eye area.

What Causes a Stye - Step 5

A stye usually goes away after about a week, although the length can vary depending on the type. A recurrent stye problem can be a sign that the body is weak and its defences are low defence. It can also be a symptom of diabetes.

This article is merely informative, oneHOWTO does not have the authority to prescribe any medical treatments or create a diagnosis. We invite you to visit your doctor if you have any type of condition or pain.

If you want to read similar articles to What Causes a Stye, we recommend you visit our Diseases & secondary effects category.


  • Never rub your eyes with your hands dirty
  • Gently clean your eyes periodically
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What Causes a Stye