Treating Sties

Boils in all areas of the body are obviously a pain, but those that appear on the eyelids can be the most difficult to treat as it is such a sensitive area. Called ‘sties', these boils develop in the same way as other boils and are usually caused by a bacterial infection. You can try various ways of treating the sty yourself before going to see your doctor, but try to avoid getting regular soap in your eye. Remember, if any soap or other product gets in your eye, wash it out immediately with cold running water.


The most effective way to treat a boil is with a  compress. Take a flannel or a cotton ball, place it in warm water, and wring it out. Using this warm compress, gently wash the affected area. Do this at least 3 times a day. Make sure to wash the flannel in between treatments to avoid re-infection.

What you are doing is bringing the sty to a head, and wiping away any pus. Warm water draws the pus to the surface, allowing it to burst naturally under the repeated soakings of warm water. Keep doing this for around 10 days from when it first appears until the boil comes to a head and bursts. Once this has happened, you can begin the next stage. Washing the area with antibacterial soap directly combats the infection. Since this is a sensitive area, you will need to buy a special soap that does not damage your eyes. Look for one that explicitly says it is safe for eyes, but expect to pay 20% more than normal soap. If you are in doubt, you may want to look for one of the brands of soap marketed towards children that says ‘no tears'. Make sure you close your eyes while washing the affected area, and sponge off the soap afterwards with a warm compress. Even though you will be using ‘eye friendly' soap, take care to rinse out your eyes after cleansing.

Eye Patch

Once the boil has burst and you've cleaned it well, it is time for the dressing. Get an eye bandage dressing, as using even a large plaster won't be comfortable. It is better to put a bandage over the whole eye, as this eliminates the stress of friction and will greatly aid the healing process. An eye patch is generally a white bandage affair, but if you want to make your child feel more like a pirate, popping a costume shop eye-patch over the dressing won't hurt. However, you will still need to bath and wash the area 2-3 times a day, and change the dressing daily.


You need to be very careful about hygiene when you treat your sty as you don't want to infect your other eye as well! If you end up with sties on both eyelids, it's a good idea to go to see your doctor about what to do as you do not want to be rendered temporarily blind with two eye patches! Also make sure to seek professional advice from your doctor if the boil refuses to come to a head and burst or if you have other health issues like diabetes to consider.