Eye styes can be painful, annoying, and let’s face it unattractive. If you are prone to getting them you may wonder why you keep getting eye styes. Or if you’ve never had one, you might just want to know how to avoid them in the first place. Read on to learn about eye stye causes, eye stye treatments and prevention.
What is a stye?
An eye stye is a swollen lump on the outer edge of your eyelid. It’s tender to the touch and can be very painful.
Styes are caused by a bacterial infection in an oil gland or hair follicle on your eyelid. These glands and follicles can get clogged with dead skin cells and other debris. Sometimes, bacteria get trapped inside and cause an infection. This results in a swollen, painful lump called a stye, according to healthline.com. In some cases, recurrent styes are caused by underlying conditions such as blepharitis, (chronic inflammation along the edge of the eyelid). If you have frequent eye styes contact your eye doctor.
What causes a stye on your eye?
External styes are the most common type of eye stye and usually start in a blocked eyelash follicle on the outside edge of the eyelid.
What causes a stye in your eye?
Internal styes are also caused by bacteria. This type of stye begins in an oil gland within your eyelid tissue. They may push on your eye as they grow and tend to be more painful than external styes.
What are the most common signs and symptoms of a stye?
The Mayo Clinic lists the following as common signs and symptoms of a stye:
- A red lump on your eyelid that is similar to a boil or a pimple
- Eyelid pain
- Eyelid swelling
You may also experience sensitivity to light and a feeling of grittiness in the eye similar to that of pink eye.
Are eye styes contagious?
Though the stye itself may not be considered contagious, the bacteria that causes it can be. The type of bacteria that most commonly causes styes is staphylococcal bacteria. Though everyone carries it (on their skin or in their nose), it is easily transferred to the eye when you rub your nose, and then touch your eye. All About Vision advises in order to avoid spreading a stye to others, wash your hands often, avoid touching your eye and don’t share your pillowcases, bedsheets, washcloths or towels with others.
How long does it take for a stye to go away?
Styes will usually heal on their own in a few days, though it may take up to ten days to resolve completely. If improve on its own, especially if it is accompanied by other symptoms such as facial swelling, contact your doctor.
What is the best stye treatment?
Warm compresses are usually the best stye treatment to relieve the swelling and discomfort of a stye. Wet a clean washcloth with warm water and wring the cloth so it’s damp but not dripping. Then gently place it over your eye for about 5 to 10 minutes. Repeat several times a day with a clean cloth.
Other home remedies to treat styes on your eye include:
A warm tea bag- This works much in the same way as a warm cloth, drawing out the infection. Black tea is best as it is said to have anti-bacterial properties. Use boiled water like you were going to make tea and pour enough to cover the tea bag, so it can steep for a minute. Let it cool and then apply to your eye. Just be sure it isn’t too hot and use fresh tea bags each time.
Ointments-Medicated, anti-bacterial ointments are sold for eye styes and are safe to apply in the inside of your eye lid. Just be sure to follow all directions exactly and NEVER use anything in or on your eye that is not specifically made for that purpose. If you have any other symptoms with your stye such as: excessive pain, affected vision or no relief with at home or over the counter remedies after seven days, contact your Toronto eye doctor.
Can you pop a stye?
Much like a pimple, once the infection starts to come out of the stye it can form what looks like a whitehead. It can be tempting to pop it, but it isn’t recommended. If you continue with your warm compresses, the infection (pus, we know, yuck) will drain on its own. If it is very uncomfortable, especially if it is on the inside of your eyelid contact your eye doctor to see if they can drain it for you.
Stye Prevention Tips
Here are some ways to prevent getting eye styes in the first place:
- Wash your hands with soap and water before touching your eyes, especially if you have a cold and are wiping your nose.
- Clean your eyelids with a Q-tip dipped in warm water and mild soap or shampoo.
- Remove eye makeup every night before sleeping.
- Don’t use expired cosmetics or mascara that’s opened for a while. Exposure to air creates bacteria. It is recommended to replace your mascara every few months.
- Properly clean make-up brushes often.
- Avoid sharing towels with someone who has a stye.
- Avoid sharing eye make-up.
- Clean your contacts properly and replace them as directed.
When it is something other than a Stye?
Other bumps on the eye that may mimic stye symptoms are:
- A chalazion-it can grow on the underside of your eyelid, behind your eyelashes, or midway up your eyelid. It can look like a stye but may grow larger, up to the size of a pea. It’s also more likely to come back.
- A milium– tiny white cyst common in children.
Did you know?
- Doctors usually refer to a stye as a hordeolum.
- Though you can spell stye, as ‘sty’ and both are often used to refer to eye styes, “sty” is the only spelling used in reference to kind that house pigs!
So, just to recap:
- Styes develop when a clogged gland or hair follicle on the edge of your eyelid becomes infected. They’re very common especially in people who frequently rub their eyes or don’t clean their contacts properly.
- Styes can be painful, and annoying but will usually resolve on their own in a matter of days. Warm compresses can help them drain and heal more quickly.
- A stye that doesn’t start improving in several days, causes vision problems, or bleeds heavily should be evaluated by your doctor.