Styes: Causes and Remedies

Styes are unsightly, irritating and painful afflictions of the eye that can be caused by a number of things, and can also be remedied in numerous ways, including the use of garlic juice, parsley, potato, goldenseal, chamomile, green tea, and turmeric, among others.

What is Styes?

A stye is an infection near the eye, typically caused by the Aureus Staphylococccus bacterium, and can come in a number of forms. External styes are usually located on the sebaceous glands of Zeis, near the bottom of the eyelashes, or on the sweat glands of Moll, on the margin of the eyelid. Internal styes are also common, inside the eyelid. These infections are usually accompanied by a red bump on the lower eye, either internally or externally. These infected bumps can be painful, but they are rarely dangerous to your overall health, or the function of the eye.

These styes are typically filled with water and pus, and should not be popped forcefully, as the release of the bacterium can then spread and cause more styes in the eye. They typically last for a week, and will then rupture naturally and harmlessly, once the bacteria is neutralized by the body’s immune system. In rare cases, complications do occur, and can cause corneal irritation, generalized infection of the eyelid, or eyelid deformity. Some of the most common symptoms that can signal the formation or development of a stye is a drooping eyelid, redness beneath the eyelashes, tenderness, light sensitivity, excessive blinking, uncontrollable tearing, or blurred vision.


Causes of Styes

While a bacterial infection is the main cause of the stye, that infection is often brought about by a blocked sebaceous gland in the eye, much like acne of the face, chest or neck. When these oil glands are blocked, they are ripe for bacterial infection. Poor hygiene, poor nutrition, excessive touching of the eye, sharing of infected towels or washcloths, dehydration, or an immune deficiency. While styes are very irritating, it is important not to scratch, rub, or attempt to forcefully pop styes, as this can increase your chances of complications and more serious infections.

Home Remedies for Styes

Garlic Juice

Although putting any strong mixture near the eye can cause irritation, garlic juice is packed with antibacterial and antimicrobial properties, which can quickly clear up the infection of the eye and promote healing. You can crush 8-10 garlic cloves and then apply a small amount of the garlic juice carefully to the affected area. If you are suffering from an internal stye, do not put the garlic juice inside the eyelid; apply it to the outer layer of skin and allow the active ingredients to permeate.


These common starchy vegetables may seem bland and inactive when it comes to natural healing, potatoes actually contain a number of astringent properties that can reduce inflammation and swelling, while also making it difficult for blood to reach the affected area. Grating a potato, wrapping it in cheesecloth and then pressing it against the affected area can quickly clear up a stye.

Proper Hygiene

One of the main causes of styes is poor hygiene, so if you feel that a stye is developing, or if you regularly suffer from these irritating infections, make a more conscious effort to thoroughly clean the areas around your eye, and don’t be afraid to flush out your eye with clean, cold water from time to time, to ensure that no bacterial build-up has occurred.

Chamomile and Green Tea

While tea is usually consumed for its health benefits, people often forget about the tea bags, and simply throw them away. A popular remedy for styes is to brew a pot of chamomile or green tea and then put the used up teabag in the refrigerator. You can directly apply this tea bag to the infected area of your eye, and the antioxidant compounds in these tea varieties can quickly eliminate the infection and help to bring out the pus from the stye, thus speeding up the healing process.

Aloe Vera

As one of the most well known antibacterial and anti-inflammatory substances in natural healing, aloe vera juice and aloe vera leaves have been a treatment option for styes for many years. You can rub the gel directly from aloe vera leaves under the eye to eliminate the infection, or gently dab aloe vera juice on the affected area 2-3 times a day for rapid relief.


Onions are famed for making you cry when you cut them, but they are also packed with antioxidant compounds and antibacterial agents that can eliminate the Aureus Staphylococcus bacteria very quickly. You can chop up an onion, wrap it in cheesecloth, and then press the compress to your eye for rapid relief. Don’t be afraid when you can’t stop crying… that just means it’s working!

Eye Flushing

As soon as you feel the tenderness or irritation that precedes a stye, flush out your eye with a water splash. Simply cleansing the excess dust, oil and debris from the corners of your eye can lessen the severity of the infection, or prevent it from developing any further. This is also much more hygienic than rubbing the area or trying to clear out dirt and oil with your fingers.


Parsley doesn’t have too many applications in natural healing, but when it comes to eliminating styes, you can boil parsley leaves, and then use the resultant water as an effective remedy. The active ingredients in parsley help to detoxify the stye and bring out the bacteria and pus, thus speeding up the healing process and reducing the swelling and irritation.


If you mix turmeric and water, and then boil the combination, the resultant water can be applied to the site of the stye with a cloth, so its antibacterial and anti-inflammatory powers can do the most good. If you apply this liquid to the eye 2-3 times per day, you can vastly hasten the healing process of the infected eyelid.


With antibacterial, anti-inflammatory and astringent properties, goldenseal is one of the best herbs for healing styes quickly and effectively. There is a reason why this herb is commonly known as eye root or eye balm in certain cultures. Use a small amount of goldenseal extract in an eyedropper and you’ll see improvement in a matter of days.

A Final Word of Warning: While most styes are harmless, they are extremely irritating, and can cause complications on rare occasions. If styes persist, or if you are developing styes on a more regular basis, see a medical professional to ensure that there isn’t a more serious problem underlying this recurring condition

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