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Why and How to Use a Hot Compress to Get Rid of Sties

Updated on June 19, 2013

The benefits of using the hot compress

If you have ever had a stye, you know how painful it can be. You also know that you want to get rid of it as soon as possible. Nobody wants to have a huge, red, puss-filled pimple on their eyelid. So you are desperate and willing to compel any advice possible. But it seems that everybody only have one method to recommend – the hot compress. You can search online, you can go to doctor, or you can just ask your elderly relative… They are all going to mention a hot compress sooner or later. But does covering your eye with something hot really help?

There are multiple reasons to recommend a hot compress as a stye cure. A hot compress does not only help to cure sties but it also helps with other eye problems. There are two main reasons why a hot compress is effective against eye problems. First of all, the warmth helps to loosen up the eyelid debris that has collected to your eyelash follicles. And as you might have already learnt, sties can be caused because the eyelash follicles have been blocked by debris and then the blocked follicles fills up with the puss. So it’s really true when they say that sties are kind of like pimples. When this debris is out of the way, the puss draws out more easily.

The second reason why a hot compress is effective is because warmth increases the blood flow to the eyelid area and this will fasten the natural healing process of the body. When the blood flow increases, it brings more oxygen and nutrients to the area. Oxygen will help the body to kill the bacteria causing the infection and the nutrients are needed to support the process.

A hot compress is also recommended because warmth helps to ease the pain. Sties can be painful and itchy but when warmth is applied to the area, it will lessen the feeling of discomfort. Warmth relaxes the muscles around the injured area which will make the pain less noticeable. Blood coming to the area will also bring with it body's natural pain killers (endorphins) and adrenaline which will also lessen the pain.

Improving the effectiveness of a hot compress

Now that I have convinced you that a hot compress is a really effective way to treat a stye, you probably want to know what kind of hot compress is the most effective. Even though any hot compress can be effective there are certain types of compresses that work better than just hot water. You can add different ingredients to the water that will make it more effective.

You can find several advices online what you should add. Some advices are full of ingredients that are either expensive or difficult to get. There are also commercial medicines that can help you. But I prefer options that are natural, cheap and easy to get. You can probably find what you need from your cupboard already but if you can’t, you just need to go to your nearest food store to buy it. And I promise you that it’s not going to break your bank.

The secret ingredient


So what is my secret ingredient for an effective hot compress? Black tea!

I am sure that you want to know why is black tea an important part of your hot compress. I use black tea because it contains tannins. Several studies have shown that tannins have antiviral, antimicrobial, and antibacterial properties. Some harmful organisms can be inactivated when they are incubated with red grape juice or red wines which have a high content of condensed tannins. So tannins help to kill the infection and teamed up with warmth, your stye will be gone in no time.

I use black tea because it contains most tannins but if you have only green tea in your cupboard, you can also try that because green tea has also a high amount of tannins in it.

When you first apply a tea bag on your eye, you are likely to have a stinging feeling from the tannins. It’s nothing dangerous and it should reduce as you continue to keep the tea pack on your eye. Of course, if you feel any serious pain, you should take the tea bag off. You might be allergic to something in the tea and if that happens it’s better to stop and try another method.

How to use a hot compress

Using the hot compress is not difficult. You simply boil some water and add the tea pack. Then you have to wait that the water has cooled enough so it doesn’t burn your eye. Remember that you don’t want your tea pack to be so hot that it burns but you don’t want it to be too cold either. You should test the tea pack on your skin before you put it on your eye.

When you are ready to use it, you should press the extra water off so it wouldn't run on your face. But leave some moisture in it, so it stays warm longer. You can also dip it again to the tea to make it warm again.

My advice is that you should hold the tea bag on your eye for 15 to 20 minutes at the time. And you should repeat this three or four times a day.

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    • paperfacets profile image

      Sherry Venegas 

      3 years ago from La Verne, CA

      I have red sore bumps that seem like styes on the upper part of the right cheek near but not on the corner of the eye. Doctors remedies like rosacea and eczema steroids have not done anything to lessen its recurrence. I read your other articles and now I am going to try home remedies. Tea, turmeric and baby shampoo. What is there to loose? I have had it for over four years. I have plenty of time.

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