Often a sign of an eye infection, a stye is characterized by the formation of a red lump on the upper or lower eyelid. This HealthHearty write-up provides information on the ways to get rid of a stye.
|A stye must not be confused with a chalazion, which is a small sebaceous cyst that forms due to the blockage of a meibomian gland in the eyelid. However, an internal stye can turn into a chalazion, if it doesn’t heal or drain.|
A stye, which is medically referred to as a hordeolum, is a common eye problem that can affect people of all age groups. It is a tender, red lump or pimple-like structure that develops around the inner or outer edge of an eyelid. Though styes are considered to be harmless and typically don’t cause any vision problems, these can be painful and itchy. Moreover, these can also be a cause of cosmetic concern. Based on the location, a hordeolum is classified into external and internal hordeolum. An external hordeolum, as the name suggests, develops on the outer side of the eyelid, and affects Glands of Zeis (small sebaceous glands located at the base or the margin of the eyelashes) or Glands of Moll (small sweat glands located near the base of the eyelashes).
An internal hordeolum affects the meibomian glands that are located on the inner edge of the eyelids. Several meobomian glands are located within the eyelids near the eyelashes. When we blink, meibum (oily substance produced by these glands) is secreted on to the margin of the eyelids. This substance prevents the rapid evaporation of the tears, thereby maintaining the quality of the tear film of the eyes.
More often than not, this eye condition is caused by a bacterial infection, with Staphylococcus aureus bacterium being the causal organism for the infection. This bacterium normally resides in the nasal passages, and can easily get transferred from the nose to the eyes. A stye forms as bacteria multiply at or near the base of the eyelids, thereby causing inflammation of the meibomian glands, Glands of Zeis, or the Glands of Moll. Excess oil and debris can also clog the eyelash follicles or glands at the base of the eyelids, thereby increasing the risk of this infection. Using eye makeup that is past the expiry date or going to bed without removing makeup can also make one susceptible to such infections. Styes can also develop as a complication of blepharitis, which refers to the inflammation of the eyelids. The characteristic symptoms of a stye include:
- Foreign body sensation in the affected eye
- Itching sensation in the affected eye
- Increased sensitivity to light
- Localized eyelid swelling
- Redness and tenderness at the affected area
- Small, yellowish spot (pus) at the center of the bump
- Pain around the bump
- Discomfort while blinking
- Crusting of the margins of the eyelid
Unlike external styes that can be easily seen, internal styes can only be seen when you turn the eyelid inside out. These develop slowly and are more painful than the external ones.
More often than not, external styes might resolve on their own, within 4-5 days. There are certain precautionary measures that the affected person should follow:
Don’t Wear Contact Lenses or Eye Makeup
Women should refrain from applying eye makeup till the stye heals completely, as that would contaminate the makeup and clog the glands further. Refrain from wearing contact lenses, as there’s a risk of contamination.
Don’t Squeeze the Stye
However tempted you might feel, don’t squeeze or pop the stye. It would be best to let the pus or debris drain on its own. Avoid popping the stye, as that can cause the infection to spread.
However, these can sometimes turn into a chalazion. If the stye has transformed into a chalazion, it would be better to consult an ophthalmologist. In order to speed up the healing process, one should:
Instill Antibiotic Eye Drops
Since this infection is mostly caused by bacteria, instilling antibiotic eye drops can prove beneficial. The administration of medicated drops would help destroy the bacteria and inhibit their growth. Antibiotic ointments or pills might be recommended in some cases.
Apply Warm Compresses
Application of warm compresses is one of the most effective home remedies for styes. Before applying warm compresses, wash your hands with an antibacterial soap. Get hold of a clean washcloth. Dip it warm water, and wring out excess water. Press the washcloth against your eyelid for 10 minutes. Repeat this several times daily till the stye heals. This will help drain the pus and debris that’s clogging the glands.
Practice Eyelid Hygiene
You can also clean your eyelid with a baby shampoo or a special eyelid scrub that will not hurt the eyes. Make sure that you dilute the shampoo with water. Take a clean cotton swab and dip it in this solution, and clean your eyelid with it.
The best way to get rid of a stye is to keep the eyelids clean. Do follow the aforementioned remedies and measures, as soon as the stye appears. If the stye doesn’t resolve soon, consult an ophthalmologist for proper treatment.
Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is solely for educating the reader. It is not intended to be a substitute for the advice of a medical expert.