Are Styes Contagious?

man touching inflamed eyelid

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  • Even though a stye itself may not be contagious, the bacteria that cause it can be transferred to another person, where they may or may not cause an infection. These bacteria are known as Staphylococcus, and they’re normally found on the skin and mucous membranes
  • A Staphylococcus bacterium usually doesn’t cause health issues, but it may lead to styes and other forms of infection if it gets into broken skin and other entry sites of the body
  • The best way to prevent further infection is to avoid touching, rubbing or squeezing your stye, as these may spread the infection on the surrounding tissues

When diagnosed with a stye, one of the questions that may cross your mind is whether your condition is contagious or not. After all, the last thing you want is to infect someone else with this painful and irritating eyelid infection. However, there is conflicting information regarding the contagiousness of a stye, since there’s still a disagreement among experts on it.1 To gain a better understanding of this topic, you have to consider the causes of a stye and how it’s formed.

The Stye Itself Is Not Contagious

Since a stye is a bacterial infection, some may argue that it can be transferred from one person to another. However, it’s highly unlikely for you to catch the stye from an infected person and develop it through simple contact, since bacterial infection is just one aspect of its etiology. Keep in mind that the bacteria also need to multiply in a clogged eyelid gland to form a stye.2,3,4

Even though a stye itself may not be contagious, the bacteria that cause it can be transferred to another person, where they may or may not cause an infection. These bacteria are known as Staphylococcus, and they’re normally found on the skin and mucous membranes.

A Staphylococcus bacterium alone usually doesn’t cause health issues, but it may lead to styes and other forms of infection if it gets into broken skin and other entry sites of the body.5 The risk for developing an infection may also increase due to the following factors:6

Weakened immune system

Underlying chronic illness

Usage of illegal drugs

Usage of medical tubes or implanted medical devices

Ways to Prevent the Spread of Staphylococcus Bacteria

Just because a stye is not contagious doesn’t mean that you can handle it any way you want. Keep in mind that you still have to be careful when managing this eyelid infection, since transferring the Staphylococcus bacteria to another person may put them at risk of developing a stye. Here are some ways to help stop the spread of these bacteria:7

Always keep your hands clean by washing them thoroughly with mild, chemical-free soap and warm water.

Avoid sharing your personal items, such as towels, clothing, razors and cosmetic products, with other people.

Do not let other people touch your stye, or any of your wound for that matter, with their bare hands.

Properly dispose of, or thoroughly clean, materials that you use on your infected eyelid, such as cottons, gauzes and washcloths.

Refrain from using public shower facilities, whirlpools and saunas while you have an active stye.

Aside from preventing the spread of Staphylococcus bacteria to other people, you should also take measures to keep your stye from worsening and affecting the area around your infected eyelid. The best way to do this is to avoid touching, rubbing or squeezing your stye, as these may spread the infection on the surrounding tissues.8

Make sure that you practice these preventive measures while you have an active stye, or even after it has been drained, in order to keep your condition in check and to prevent your loved ones from contracting an infection.

MORE ABOUT STYE

Stye: Introduction

What Is a Stye?

Stye Symptoms

Stye Causes

Stye Treatment

Stye Prevention

How to Get Rid of a Stye

Is a Stye Contagious?

How Long Do Styes Last?

Stye FAQ



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