The eyelids play a major role in protecting and lubricating the eyes. They produce oils to be secreted into the eyes, and also facilitate draining out of tears from the eyes. People of all age groups including infants can get an eyelid infection. It usually occurs when some germs attack the skin around the eyelashes. It could also be triggered due to blockage in sebaceous glands or oil glands present at the base of the eyelash. The two most identifiable signs of an eyelid infection are reddening and inflammation.
Different Forms of Eyelid Infections
In this section, we are going to discuss the causes and characteristics of various forms of eyelid infections. They are as follows.
Eye Stye: This is caused by bacterial build up on the tiny sebaceous gland present near the hair follicles in the eyelid. It results in formation of one or more red bumps that look very similar to pimples. These bumps can be found either along the edges or at the bottom of the eyelid. Within days of outbreak of the stye, it gets filled up with pus and a white or yellow spot appear on its surface. Styes are extremely painful and are warm and tender to touch. It leads to swollen eyelid and excessive tearing of the eyes. The affected eye becomes highly sensitive towards light. If you go out in the sun with a stye, then the pain would get aggravated.
Blepharitis: This is a condition where the bacteria which already exist on the eyelid skin start growing abnormally. As a result, the oil glands are unable to lubricate the eyes properly and the patients feel itchiness and burning sensation in the eyes all the time. The skin turns red, and sometimes greasy flakes can be found on it. Many patients complain about heaviness in the eyelid. The eyes hurt when exposed to any bright light. In the morning, one may find it difficult to open the eyes as the crusty eyelashes are glued together by overnight discharge from the eyelids.
Cellulitis: This is a severe form of eyelid infection. Here, the infection causing bacteria enters the eyelid skin through breaks or cuts and then multiply in numbers. This causes a lot of itching and burning in the eyes. Pus discharge, pain and tenderness in eyelid, fever, headache, etc., are its other symptoms. As the infection spreads rapidly, it may get extended to the face as well and cause facial swelling. If this infection worsens further, then it can affect the orbit of the eye.
Treatment of Eyelid Infections
Usually, an eye stye does not require any treatment and it goes away on its own. After 2-3 days, the stye breaks up and the pus is drained out. It takes around a week to heal up completely. In the meantime, to get rid of the pain and eyelid swelling, hot compression can be helpful. Take some boiling water, dip a washcloth in it and place it on the stye. The heat will improve the blood circulation in the area and ensure its faster healing. If the stye breaks in the process, then the drained fluids should be cleaned thoroughly or else the infection may spread to other areas. A painful stye should be treated by doctors. They prescribe antibiotics ointments and eye drops to fight the infection. In case, the stye does not respond to all these treatments, and its size grows larger; then doctors pierce it with the help of a needle to drain it out. Find more on eye stye home remedies.
Treatment of blepharitis involves thorough washing of the eyelashes. For this, first of all, wash your face with a washcloth and then apply a diluted form of any mild baby shampoo on the eyelids. Rub it gently on the edges of the eyelids keeping your eyes closed. This way you can clean up all the crusted debris that are stuck on the eyelids. This should be done twice a day, in the morning and at night. After cleaning, a prescription antibiotic ointment need to be applied on the eyelid. It is very difficult to treat blepharitis and usually takes about 8 to 12 months to cure. In some people, it can last for an indefinite period of time.
Treatment of eyelid cellulitis should start as soon as possible. This will prevent spreading of the infection any further. It is usually treated with help of oral antibiotics. However, in serious cases, IV antibiotics may have to be administered. Antibiotic eye drops or ointments are used to ensure that the infection does not affect the orbit of the eye. There is no home treatment for this infection but its painful symptoms can be relieved with the help of warm compression.
When you have any eyelid infection, never rub your eyes even if it badly irritates the eyes, as rubbing can cause more damage to the eyes. Before you touch the eyelids for application of medicine, do not forget to wash your hands properly. Those who wear eye makeup should not use such products for the next six months. This is because eye makeup like mascara promotes growth of bacteria and may lead to infection in the eyelids.