A stye is an infection of one of the oil or sweat glands running along the eyelid. Styes are tender to the touch and may form an abscess or pus layer that is visible through the skin as a “white head.”  The treatment for a stye typically begins with warm compresses and gentle massage.  While a “pimple” elsewhere on the body can usually be “popped” or “lanced” with little ill effect, I strongly discourage being too aggressive with the eyelid as the eyeball underneath is a sensitive structure and easily injured. Also, some doctors think that aggressive eyelid squeezing may actually spread infection to adjacent skin and make the stye worse.  If warm compresses and gentle massage aren’t working, the stye may require topical or oral antibiotics, and even lancing.  A stye is a bit different than a chalazion, which is a blockage of the deeper meibomian glands that tends to be painless.

Dr. Timothy Root is a practicing ophthalmologist and cataract surgeon in Daytona Beach, Florida. His books, video lectures, and training resources can be found at:


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