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Eye Stye Causes

An eye stye is caused by bacterial infections in the eyelids. This results in painful, swollen lumps in the infected area. Here are some common causes, symptoms, and treatment options.
Parul Solanki
Last Updated: Feb 8, 2018
An eye stye (sty) is an eye infection that is the result of the obstructed orifices or openings of the oil glands in the eyelids. This minor, short-term bacterial infection is caused by the staphylococcal bacteria or staph infection in the eye. In medical parlance, an eye stye is referred to as a hordeolum. The result is a painful, pimple-like bump or boil which appears on the internal or external part of the eyelids.
Although most of them are minor and usually recede in a day or two, certain sties embedded deeper in the eyelid can swell up and need medical attention. In certain cases, multiple sties along the margin of the eyelid may result in a serious medical condition known as blepharitis.
Causes of Eye Stye
Infection of Sebaceous Gland
Eye sties occur on the eyelids because of the infection of sebaceous gland (zeis gland). The sebaceous glands, are tiny glands present at the base of eyelash, that keep the eye moisturized and soft. This is known as external hordeolum. When the staph bacteria get trapped in the eyelash follicles and attack the glands, it gets swollen and painful. Because eye sties can also itch quite a lot, relieving this itching by rubbing can spread the infection which gets transferred to other hair shafts.
Internal Hordeolum
There is second kind of eye stye known as the internal hordeolum which is a more serious form of staph infection. It originates in the meibomian gland, located in the central part of the eyelid. Due to the pus accumulating in an internal stye not being able to drain on its own, these eye sties are comparatively more painful. So a person affected with an internal eye stye has to visit a doctor for draining out the pus and relieving themselves.
Using Cosmetic Products
Using certain cosmetic eye products, such as mascara, eyeshadows, and eyeliner can also irritate eyelids which can result in eye sties.
Other Causes
▶ In addition to the staphylococcal bacteria, there may be some other organisms responsible for this infection. For example, a respiratory tract bacterium found in the nose can get transferred to the eye through contact.
▶ People with weak immune systems, such as diabetic patients or those with a genetic predisposition to acne, can be affected with frequent eye sties.
▶ Stress or certain hormonal changes have also been known to cause eye stye.
Patients affected with an eye stye complain of eye problems such as an inflammation or boils on the eyelids. The inflammation is accompanied by itching, swelling, redness, and pain. There is a feeling of heat at the corner of your eyelids and the area around the eyelashes and eyelids can be rendered painful and tender. Most of the time, touching the eye stye aggravates the pain.
Most eye sties recede on their own within a week, with the pus draining away. However, for more persistent or recurrent sties, antibiotic drops or ointments can be used. To help drain the pus from the eye stye, fold a clean cloth and dip it in warm water. Use this as a compress and gently hold it to the affected part of the eye for 10 minutes or so. Applying the warm compress, three to four times a day over the next few days can help relieve the pain.
If the stye persists for more than 48 hours, or if there are multiple sties, you should see your family doctor to avoid it turning into a chalazion. Avoid wearing eye make-up or contact lenses to prevent the possibility of infection.
Disclaimer: This article is for informative purposes only, and should not be treated as a substitute for professional medical advice.