A stye (hordoleum) is inflammation of the eyelid, usually
inside one of the small glands lining the eyelid. Most styes are caused by
infection from bacteria like Staphylococcus
aureus (“staph”), but some have no bacteria present.
Styes are not contagious, in the sense that you don’t
“catch” a stye from someone who has one. Styes form as part of a more
complicated process than simple contact, and the body’s natural defenses tend
to block stye formation. Bacteria from a stye could be passed to someone else,
but they would only rarely cause an infection in the receiving person.
The best way to avoid getting a stye, or transmitting
bacteria to another person if you have one, is through regular hand hygiene.
People with styes shouldn’t wear contact lenses or eye makeup until their stye
is gone. Sharing contact lenses or eye makeup is best avoided, in general.
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