Stye Pathway


A stye is a small abscess of the lash root on the eyelid. It appears as a painful yellow lump on the outside of the eyelid where the lash emerges. It is also known as an external hordeolum.


Signs and Symptoms

  • Watery eye
  • Red eye and eyelid
  • Tenderness
  • Small tender red, white or clear swelling that appears along the outer edge of the eyelid
  • Centred on an eyelash follicle


  • Removal of the associated lash may help drainage
  • Warm compress (see Lid Hygiene)

Consider anti-infective eye preparations, see Antibacterials

If facial cellulitis is suspected consider oral antibiotics, see Skin and soft tissue infections – (facial) cellulitis


Referral Criteria

  • Very rarely require referral
  • Spreading preseptal cellulitis not responding to oral antibiotics requires Urgent referral

Referral instructions

Specialty: Ophthalmology

Clinic Type: Oculoplastics/Orbits/Lacrimal

Service: DRSS-Eastern and Northern-Ophthalmology-Optom Only-Devon ICB- 15N

Supporting Information

Pathway Group

This guideline has been signed off by NHS Devon CCG.

Publication date: May 2022


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