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Can I Wear Contacts With a Sty? Everything You Need to Know About Styes

closeup of a young person with a stye on their bottom eyelid

If you wear contacts, there's a good chance you take measures to keep your eyes and lenses as clean as possible. Unfortunately, certain infections are inevitable, no matter how much care you put into your eyes.

A very common issue is a sty. This is a minor infection on either the inside or outside of your eye. Although most styes are harmless, it's important to take steps to treat the problem as soon as possible. These steps could involve your contact lenses.

The first question you may ask is, "Can I wear contacts with a sty?" That's why we've put together this guide with everything you need to know.

What Exactly is a Sty?

If you notice something that resembles a pimple in or around your eyelid, this is most likely a sty. Also called a hordeolum, a sty is either internal or external. Styes are very uncomfortable and can cause minor pain, especially if located inside your eyelid. They're also unattractive. An external sty usually starts as a red pimple, but could eventually turn yellow and secrete pus.

Most styes are harmless and will go away in a matter of days if you keep your eye clean. For contact lens wearers, however, an infection like this can cause much more inconvenience. We'll discuss some steps you'll need to take later on.

A stye shouldn't warrant a trip to the eye doctor unless you're in constant pain or the infection worsens while you’re treating it. The eye is a sensitive organ, so call your doctor right away if you feel there's a more serious issue.

Common Causes of Styes

Dirty pillows stacked on bed

The most common cause of a sty is a blocked oil gland. These are called meibomian glands, and they help keep the eyes lubricated.

A blocked gland could happen as a result of makeup or poor hygiene. Styes can also occur as a result of a bad diet, lack of sleep and excessive rubbing of the eyes. Certain illnesses and conditions that cause inflammation can lead to styes. These conditions include diabetes, rosacea or dermatitis.

You can also contract a sty from the transfer of bacteria. This may happen if you rub your nose right before rubbing your eye. You may also contract one from a washcloth, pillowcase or from sharing cosmetic products. The bacteria that causes them is Staphylococcal or staph. But, don't let this scare you. While staph infections are often dangerous, styes aren't harmful unless neglected.


Many eye conditions cause redness, inflammation, and sores. So how do you know you're dealing with a sty?

Some other symptoms include itchiness or a feeling that you have something caught in your eye. You may also feel slight pressure around the infection. There will be minor sensitivity when you touch the outside of your eye. You may even experience sensitivity to light.

Another telltale sign is an increase in tears coming from the infected eye. This happens when your tear ducts react to the pimple like they do when dirt gets in your eye. You may also notice a buildup of dried, crusty material on your eyelid. If you have an external stye, you may start to notice pus coming from the pimple. It's important you clean this to prevent the spread of infection.

Proper Eye Care

Female Doctor examining woman’s eye for sty

As we mentioned, most styes will go away on their own in a matter of days. However, you still need to take measures to treat the infection. Ignoring it can prolong the sty and make it much more uncomfortable.

Once you notice the sty, place a clean washcloth soaked in warm water over your eye. Keep the washcloth there for about 10 minutes. This will help get rid of any pus and decrease the inflammation. You'll also need to wash away any crust that has formed along your eyelid. A good rule of thumb is to get your eye as clean as possible.

You'll need to keep applying a warm washcloth to bring the sty to a head. Even if you feel the temptation, don't try to pop the sty like you would a regular pimple. The infection needs to heal on its own. Give it time.

Can I Wear Contacts With a Sty?

Can I wear contacts with a sty?

If you develop a sty and wear contact lenses, this is a good time to switch to your backup glasses while the infection heals. This is especially true if you're dealing with an internal sty.

A contact lens is likely to rub against the sty and cause extra irritation. If you have an external sty and absolutely must wear your contact lenses, this should be okay. However, if you want to play it safe, avoid wearing your contacts altogether.

Contact your ophthalmologist if you have any questions about wearing your contact lenses. They can examine your eye and let you know if contacts are okay based on the location and severity of the infection.

If you do wear contacts while your sty heals, it's important you throw them away after each use. You could easily reinfect yourself if you continue to wear the same contacts after the original infection has healed.

Preventive Measures

Man washing face in bathroom sink

Once a sty is gone, there are some things you can do to prevent another one in the future. It's important to note, however, that no preventive measure is 100% effective.

Keeping your face clean is one of the best ways to prevent a sty. If you wear makeup, you must remove it before bed and wash your face every day. This will prevent your oil glands from getting clogged. You can find eyelid wipes in stores which will help kill bacteria that cause infections. Use these if you're prone to dry eyes or flaky skin.

Another important step is to practice good contact lens care. Unless you wear daily disposables, make sure you disinfect your lenses every night. And never wear old, worn out contacts.

Avoid Discomfort with Proper Eye Care

Although styes are temporary, they can make things quite uncomfortable, especially if you wear contacts. Still, by practicing good hygiene, you can get rid of a stye quickly and painlessly.

If you were asking yourself, "Can I wear contacts with a sty?" just know that it's much safer to switch to glasses for a few days. Contact your optometrist if wearing glasses for a while is an issue for you.

If you're looking for contact lenses online, we provide a wide range of brands and styles. Contact us today to learn more.

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