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How to Treat an Infected Eyelash

By Ellen Ray ; Updated July 27, 2017

Do you have a red, swollen, tender bump above your eyelash line? If so, you may have an infected eyelash follicle, also known as a sty. This type of infection occurs when bacteria from the skin clogs a follicle gland. According to, 90 to 95 percent of the time, the bacterium Staphylococcus aureus is behind this type of infection.

Although a sty may look and feel awful, the majority of sties are harmless and can easily be treated at home with a warm compress.

  1. Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water.

  2. Hold a clean washcloth underneath running warm water. When the cloth is soaked thoroughly, remove it and wring the water out.

  3. Close the affected eye and place the washcloth over top of it.

  4. Hold the washcloth over the eye for 10 minutes. If the washcloth starts to feel cool, re-wet it with warm water.

  5. Repeat this process four to six times a day, until the sty is healed. You should see improvement within a day or two.

  6. Tip

    If the sty gets worse or does not improve within a week, contact your health care provider. Topical antibiotics or surgical intervention may be necessary.

    To help prevent future sties, wash your hands thoroughly before touching your eyes or surrounding skin and regularly clean off any excess oil that may form on your eyelids.


    Do not press or squeeze a sty as this can cause the infection to spread to other eyelash follicles.

    Do not wear contact lenses while you have a sty, as the contact lenses can become contaminated with bacteria.

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