You crack open your eyes in the morning and notice a bit of soreness. You wander over to the mirror and see a rosy, pimple-like lump on the edge of your upper or lower eye lid.

You’ve got an eye stye. So, how do you get rid of it?

Fortunately, eye styes are common and most of the time do not warrant medical attention. Follow these steps to treat and prevent eye styes.

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What Is an Eye Stye?

An eye stye is an infection that causes a red lump, usually on the edge of your upper or lower eye lid. The skin around your eye, like the rest of your body, has oil glands and pores that can become clogged. An infection develops at the bottom of an eyelash follicle or due to a clogged eyelid oil gland, which causes redness and swelling.

Styes do not impact vision, however, they do cause soreness, tearing, and sensitivity to light.

If your lump sits underneath the skin of the eyelid and does not hurt, it is most likely a “chalazion,” not a stye. A chalazion forms when an oil gland becomes blocked or when a stye does not drain or heal properly.

RELATED: Eye Opening: How Our Eyes Reveal Health Clues

Why Do I Have an Eye Stye?

Eye styes form as a result of bacterial infection. These infections can result from a variety of factors, including excessive rubbing of your eyes to the use of old makeup.

How Do I Treat An Eye Stye?

Fortunately, most eye styes can be treated at home. Though it’s tempting, do not pick or attempt to pop your eye stye, as this will only slow down the healing process and possibly spread the infection.

  • Apply a warm compress  over the infected eye several times a day. Hold the compress in place for five to ten minutes, and be sure to use a gentle wash cloth. This can help reduce the size of stye and open up clogged pores.
  • If you have an eye stye, keep your hands and towels clean  and dispose of old eye makeup that could have contributed to the infection. Don’t wear contact lenses or eye makeup until your stye has fully healed.
  • If your eye stye persists  for several days or becomes larger and more painful, you should contact your primary care physician or visit a UPMC Vision Institute.

RELATED: How To Treat Eye Discharge

How Do I Prevent an Eye Stye?

  • Avoid rubbing your eyes. Touching your eyes allows bacteria to enter the skin around your eye, which could lead to infection. If you need to touch your eyes or eyelids, wash your hands thoroughly beforehand.
  • Protect your eyes. Wear safety glasses when participating in activities that involve dust or produce debris, such as mowing the lawn.
  • Replace eye makeup when it becomes old. To prevent possible infection due to bacteria growth, replace your eye makeup every six months. Do not share your makeup, especially mascara and eyeliner, and always remove makeup before bed.
  • At the first sign of eye soreness, take preventative measures and apply warm compresses to prevent the growth of the stye.
  • Relax. Eye styes can even develop due to high levels of stress.

About UPMC Vision Institute

The UPMC Vision Institute is a national leader in the treatment of eye diseases and disorders. We seek to improve and restore your vision to help your quality of life, diagnosing and treating a wide range of conditions in both children and adults. Our treatments include both surgical and nonsurgical options. We also offer routine eye screenings and have full-scale optical shops. Find an eye expert close to you.