Can You Exercise When You Have a Stye?

Whether your stye is at the edge of your lash line, or the even more painful internal stye inside your lid, it's understandable if the condition makes you feel too out of sorts to exercise. But in most cases, there's no medical reason not to exercise while you're coping with a stye.

Where goggles when swimming to help if you have a stye. (Image: Stevica Mrdja / EyeEm/EyeEm/GettyImages)


It’s always best to check in with your doctor or ophthalmologist about working out with a stye, especially if you don’t know what caused it. But with a few basic precautions, you should be able to exercise.

What Causes Styes?

The type of stye that grows on the inside of your eyelid, an internal stye, tends to be the more painful type. It usually stems from one of the glands that produce lubricating oils becoming infected. External styes are often caused by an infected hair follicle.

Sometimes, styes can be symptoms of an underlying condition, according to the Mayo Clinic. One of the more common of these is rosacea. This chronic condition doesn't always only cause reddened patches of skin. It may also result in inflammation around your eye area. Another potential cause of frequent styes might be blepharitis, an eye condition associated with eyelid swelling.

Cleveland Clinic lists a few other medical factors that may put you more at risk for developing an external or internal stye. They include diabetes, high cholesterol, scalp dermatitis, hormone fluctuations and dry skin. If you're chronically developing styes and aren't sure why, your doctor may order further testing.

What to Be Aware of When Exercising

Does your sport normally require you to wear contact lenses? The American Academy of Family Physicians recommends that people who currently have a stye refrain from wearing contact lenses. If that proves impractical, it may help to either take a break from your sport, or to find more accommodating corrective eyewear.

Keeping irritants away from your eyes is also crucial. Swim goggles may be helpful in chlorinated pools. Keep in mind that sweating tends to make sunscreen and makeup run down your face. Avoid eye makeup altogether, or choose types that resist smearing. Likewise, choose facial sunscreen that resists the effects of weather and perspiration.

If your doctor diagnoses your external or internal stye issues as being related to ocular rosacea, she may suggest avoiding strenuous exercise — at least for the duration of the stye. Vigorous workouts, along with exercising in extreme weather conditions, can aggravate the condition.

Treating an External or Internal Stye

Warm compresses remain your best bet for treating various kinds of styes and similar eye irritants, according to the American Academy of Ophthalmology. Keep a supply of clean cloths handy. Stubborn styes may need as many as five compresses a day. Soak the cloth in warm water, wring it dry, and hold the compress against the affected eyelid for at least 10 minutes.

If your styes keep returning, or your current one won't go away, contact your doctor. She may prescribe antibiotics. If the stye causes extreme swelling, you may need to have the stye drained, or to receive an injection of cortisone to reduce the inflammation.

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