A sty in the eye will cause an uncomfortable swelling along the eyelid with accompanying redness. Styes are caused by an infection in the eye lash hair follicle or oil gland of the eye. Natural remedies for styes include tea compresses, castor oil, turmeric or activated charcoal.
What Causes a Sty (Stye)?
A sty is a bacterial infection. Staph is commonly the cause of a sty, though it is not the sole bacteria that will cause an eye infection.1 In addition to pain and swelling, a sty presents an immediate cosmetic issue which can be just as disconcerting. Styes will often heal on their own, though it can take up to 10 days. Fortunately natural remedies can heal a sty in as little as 24 hours or less, especially when treatment is started as soon as symptoms of a sty are first noticed.
Home Treatments for a Sty
1. Chamomile Tea
Chamomile fights infection, inflammation, and pain. Simply moisten a chamomile tea bag and hold it against your sty for 15 minutes. Repeat this several times throughout the day. While chamomile is a gentle herb and even a popular children’s herb, if you are allergic to ragweed, avoid the use of chamomile.
2. Green Tea
Green tea bags can be used to relieve a sty as well. The tannins in tea reduce inflammation. As with the chamomile tea bag, use for 15 minutes several times a day.
3. Black Tea
A simple black tea bag often works well for a sty. Again, 15 minutes several times a day. The tannins in the tea, as well as the warmth from the tea bag, reduce the pain, inflammation, and infection.
4. Gold Wedding Band
Wedding bands that are made of gold can be used to treat a sty. It is wise to wash and dry the wedding band before applying it to the sty so that another infection or debris is not introduced into the eye. This will not work with silicone wedding bands, though it may work with a sterling silver wedding band. Simply use the wedding band to rub the sty gently for a few minutes a couple of times each day until the sty resolves. This remedy is compatible with other natural remedies like castor oil or chamomile tea bags.
Read the feedback from Earth Clinic readers who tried the gold ring cure here.
5. Coconut Oil
Many oils have anti-infective properties. Cold pressed coconut oil is one such oil. Using a clean finger, apply coconut oil to the sty at least twice a day. To avoid getting bedding greasy, cover pillows with a towel when using this remedy at bedtime.
Use only cold processed coconut oil that smells like coconut oil to treat a sty. This oil has powerful antibacterial properties and is also soothing.
6. Castor Oil
Castor oil is commonly used in the eyes for a variety of ills, including cataracts. This healing oil will also fight a sty in many cases. Use hexane free, cold processed oil when using castor oil in or around your eyes.
Turmeric reduces inflammation and fights many bacteria, including staph, which is the cause of most styes. Turmeric can be used internally to treat a sty, or it can be used directly on the eye.
To use turmeric internally, add ½ to 1 teaspoon of turmeric to 3 ounces of whole milk or almond milk. This can be used thrice daily to fight styes or other bacterial infections. Before drinking the milk, a drop or two can be applied to the sty.
Turmeric can be used topically, alone to treat a sty. Simply mix 1/8 teaspoon of turmeric into an ounce of water and use the turmeric water as an eyewash three times a day. Make a fresh batch of eyewash each time.
Raw honey is sterile and antibacterial. Apply a few drops of honey to a sty twice daily. It may sting initially, but the sting passes quickly.
Activated charcoal will draw out infection from the sty. It also relieves pain and inflammation. This remedy is a great overnight treatment.
Mix ½ teaspoon activated charcoal powder with ½ teaspoon ground flax seed. Put them mixture into an empty tea bag. Thoroughly wet the tea bag and remove excess water. Apply the tea bag poultice to the closed infected eye. Cover the tea bag poultice with plastic wrap. Use a bandanna to keep the poultice and plastic wrap intact for overnight use. Usually, the sty is greatly relieved by morning.
If charcoal poultices are inconvenient, charcoal eye drops can be prepared and used instead.
Mix ½ teaspoon activated charcoal into 4 ounces of pure water. Strain the charcoal water through a coffee filter. Use the resulting water, which will have tiny charcoal particles in it. Add a few drops to the affected eye twice daily. This may be the least messy and most convenient sty remedy, once the eye drops have been prepared.
10. Use Strict Hygiene
- Wash all towels that touch your face during sty treatment in hot water with bleach or white vinegar. Wash your hands well after touching your eyes to avoid spreading infection.
- Do not use makeup that belongs to someone else.
- If you have reoccurring stys, you will need to replace makeup, especially eye make up.
- If chronic stys are a problem, using castor oil to remove eye makeup may alleviate the problem.
- Charcoal eye drops can also be used regularly to prevent reoccurring styes.
Additional Natural Cures for a Stye
Earth Clinic readers report the following remedies have helped heal their stye.
What is the Difference between a Sty and Conjunctivitis?
A sty is an infection of an oil gland or eyelash hair follicle in the eye. Conjunctivitis in a bacterial or viral infection of the conjunctiva of the eye.
What is the Difference between a Sty and Blepharitis?
Blepharitis is inflammation of the eyelid, though not necessarily caused by an infection. It tends to be a more chronic problem than a sty. It is commonly associated with allergies or skin conditions like rosacea or dandruff. Some sty treatments like castor oil, charcoal poultices and chamomile tea bags may work quite nicely for blepharitis.
What is the Difference between a Sty and a Chalazion?
A sty is usually quite painful, whereas a chalazion is not generally painful. A chalazion tends to be larger than a sty and further back on the eyelid.
Many sty remedies will work equally as well for a chalazion.
While essential oils are strong antibacterials, essential oils should never be used in or around the eyes. Do not use essential oils to treat a sty.
If a sty is not responding to natural remedies or seems to be getting worse instead of better, consult a medical professional.
*Sty is spelled “sty” or “stye.” The medical term for a sty is “hordeolum.” Hordelum is Latin for barley, interestingly.
Do you have a natural remedy for styes? We would love to hear from you! Continue reading individual remedy listing below to see how our readers have creatively treated their styes with home remedies.