Are Styes Contagious?

I think I have a sty in my eyelid. It's swollen and the area where my eyelashes grow from is sore. Are styes contagious? My line of work exposes me to a lot of people, and I have to shake many people's hands on a daily basis.


Styes in the eye are not contagious. They result from blockage of the oily glands at the edges of your eyelids. When these glands are obstructed, oil accumulates in the eyelid and is attacked by the body's immune system, causing pain and swelling.

As for therapy, I discussed the options with an ophthalmologist who is experienced in treating styes. Initially, he recommends applying warm compresses to the affected eyelid twice a day. If the sty does not clear within three to four weeks, it may have to be surgically drained. This is a relatively simple procedure that usually takes just five to 10 minutes.

So, don't worry about styes being contagious. But please contact your ophthalmologist about follow-up and possible surgical treatment. Also, eyelid cancer and some other conditions can mimic styes, so it is important to be evaluated by an eye doctor.

by William Trattler