Symptoms of Styes
- Tender, red bump at the base of an eyelash on the upper or lower eyelid
What Is a Stye?
Like hair elsewhere on your body, eyelashes grow from follicles, which lie just under the skinin this case along the eyelidand are composed of the hair root and connective tissue. A stye is a common, often painful, bacterial infection that occurs either in one of the many follicles or in an oil gland on the eyelid margin. The stye usually appears as a small red pimple or boil with a whitish head, though when it occurs deep in an oil gland it won’t have any head at all.
Styes can be very painful when touched. Even with treatment, styes will frequently recur because the bacteria that infect the first follicle
What Causes Styes?
A stye develops when one of the eyelash follicles or glands becomes clogged with oil or dirt. Having chronic blepharitis increases the risk of developing styes, and styes are also especially common in people with fair complexions, particularly those of Irish, English, and Scottish descent.
What if You Do Nothing about Styes?
Styes are generally harmless. Several days after a stye forms, it will usually burst and drain, relieving the pain in the process. The stye should subside completely within a week or so.
Home Remedies for Styes
Apply warm compresses. Wash the eyelids twice daily with a mild soap. Apply a warm washcloth to the eye for 10 minutes four times a day to increase blood circulation, which brings more infection-fighting white blood cells to the area helping the stye form a head. Once the stye opens and releases the pus, you will feel pain relief.
Continue to cleanse the eyelid several times daily. Cleaning the lid even after the stye drains will help prevent the bacteria from spreading.
Prevention of Styes
- Don’t rub your eyes. Rubbing can spread the infection to other eyelashes.
- Don’t share washcloths or towels. Infection can be spread from contaminated bath linens.
When to Call Your Doctor
If the stye doesn’t heal, or if it becomes unusually large, contact your physician. Also see your doctor if you develop many styes or if they occur frequently.
What Your Doctor Will Do
After a careful examination your doctor may prescribe antibiotics. A troublesome stye may be lanced and drained at your physician’s office.
For More Information about Styes
- American Academy of Ophthalmology