A stye is a small abscess of the lash root on the eyelid. It appears as a painful yellow lump on the outside of the eyelid where the lash emerges. It is also known as an external ordeolum.



  • Watery eye (epiphora)
  • Red eye and eyelid
  • Painful to touch 



  • A small tender red swelling that appears along the outer edge of the eyelid, which may turn into a yellow pus-filled spot, centred on an eyelash follicle 



  • Give patient stye information leaflet
  • Epilate the lash from the affected follicle with a pair of fine tweezers and prescribe chloramphenicol ointment tds-qds for 1 week
  • A warm compress (a facecloth soaked with warm water and squeezed out) held against the eye encourages the stye to heal more quickly
  • It is very rare indeed to require surgical drainage
  • If there is definite spreading cellulitis in the lid, it requires oral antibiotics (e.g. co-amoxiclav)


Last updated: November 2017