Stye: Causes, Symptoms, Treatment, Home Remedies and Prevention

Do you have a little red pimple-like or boil-like lump near the edge of your eye or on your eyelids? Is it irritating and painful? Do not dismiss it as a mere pimple or just a boil. It might be sty and you may require medical assistance for the same. Read this article to know about the causes, symptoms, diagnosis, treatment, home remedies and prevention of Stye.

What is Stye?

Stye, also called as sty or hordeolum, refers to a red and painful lump near the edge of eyelid or on your lower lash line. It looks like a boil or a pimple and is often filled with pus.  It usually form on the outer side of the eyelid but at times may also form on the inner part of the eyelid.

In majority of the cases, stye begins to disappear in a couple of days on its own and hence home remedies are pretty much enough to treat it. However, in rare occasions when home remedies do not prove to be much helpful and the stye expands, becomes redder or gets filled up with more pus, immediate medical help is required to avoid further complications or risks related to vision.

Styes are just like acne or pimples in the sense that they aren’t contagious in nature and hence cannot spread to others around you just by casual physical contact. A stye is just a phenomenon of local inflammation and irritation.

A stye usually breaks open and drains out pus on its own in three to seven days. After that, complete healing may take anywhere between seven to ten days if simple home remedies are used. Although styes are not a serious medical issue in general, but they are pretty irritating nonetheless.

A stye must be differentiated from a chalazion. A chalazion also causes inflammation of the eyelid but it is not painful. It is a result of blockage in the small oil glands just at the margin of the eyelid, just behind the eyelashes. It is most prominent on the inner portion of the eyelid. However, treatment for both stye as wells as chalazion is similar.

Causes of Stye

A stye is caused by an infection of oil glands in the eyelid area. The bacterium staphylococcus is usually responsible for most of these infections. You are at an increased risk of contracting stye if you do these following-

  • Do not take off eye makeup at night and let it remain on your eyes overnight.
  • Touch your eyes very often with dirty and unwashed hands.
  • Use contact lenses without disinfecting them properly or without washing your hands prior to applying lenses.
  • Use old or expired cosmetic products on your eyes.
  • Suffer from blepharitis, which is a chronic inflammation along the edge of your eyelids, or rosacea, that is, a skin condition characterized by facial redness.

Symptoms of Stye

The most common symptoms and signs of stye include one or a combination of the following-

  • A red lump on your eyelid or on your lower lash line that resembles a boil or a pimple.
  • Pain in the eyelids
  • Swelling in the eyelids
  • Teary and watery eyes

Stye does not usually lead to complications. But in very rare cases, it might progress to a chalazion. A chalazion causes cosmetic deformity and corneal irritation. It usually requires a surgical removal. Styes that develop too large can also interfere with vision.

When to see a doctor for Stye

Styes tend to be generally harmless in nature and do not affect your ability to see clearly. You should try home remedies and self-care measures first and then consult a doctor if-

  • The stye does not seem to improve within 48 hours
  • Redness and swelling starts to extend beyond the eyelid to other parts of your face
  • The stye becomes more painful
  • The stye starts to affect your vision
  • A external stye starts developing into an internal stye
  • Also go for medical help if your styes reoccur. This might be due to an underlying condition like conjunctivitis, blepharitis and/or cellulitis.

Diagnosis of Stye

Usually, a physical examination of the eyelid is enough to ascertain whether you have stye or not. The doctor might also use a light and a magnifying device to get a closer examination of your eyelid.

Treatment of Stye

In the majority of the cases, stye does not usually require a specific medical treatment and tends to go away on its own if proper care is taken at home. But in case the stye persists or increases, your doctor may suggest the following-

Antibiotics for Stye

Your doctor is likely to prescribe antibiotics in the form of eye drops or a topical antibiotic cream, or both. Antibiotics in the tablet, pill or capsule form may also be prescribed if the infection spreads beyond your eyes to other regions on your face.

 Surgery to relieve pressure

If your sty doesn’t clear up, your doctor is likely to make a incision in it to drain the pus. This helps to speed up the healing process and relieves the pain and swelling.

Lifestyle and home remedies for Stye

Until your stye goes away on its own, you may try to do the following-

  • Do not pop the stye or squeeze the pus out from it. If you do so, you run the risk of causing the infection to spread further. You should leave the stye alone.
  • You may wash your eyelid with a mild soap and water to keep the infected area clean.
  • To relieve pain and reduce swelling, you may place a warm washcloth or a soft cloth soaked into water with excess water squeezed out, over your closed eyelid. You can re-wet the cloth as and when it starts to lose the heat. This can be continued for ten to fifteen minutes, three to four times a day. This may eventually lead the stye to drain out the pus on its own.
  • Do not wear any eye makeup until the stye heals completely.
  • Do not wear your contact lenses until the stye goes away. If you have already unknowingly worn contact lenses during the initial phase of stye, dispose off those contact lenses if possible or try to sterilize them as properly as you can. This would prevent the stye from re-occurring due to the infected contact lenses.

Measures to Prevent Stye

You can follow the following measures to prevent stye-

  • Wash your hands properly with a mild anti-bacterial soap and warm water several times each day. You can also use an alcohol based sanitizer if washing hands is not possible for you. Try to keep your hands away from your eyes.
  • Throw away your old and expired cosmetics. Keep tract of the expiry dates of all your cosmetic products, especially eye cosmetics like kohl and mascara.
  • Wash your hands thoroughly before applying contact lenses and make sure the lenses you use are clean and sterilized.

Now you know that when you notice something strange ‘bubbling’ up near your eye, it might be a stye in its initial stages! Take proper care and seek medical help, if required, to get better soon. And do practice the preventive measures we have listed to prevent stye in the future. We hope you found this article informative.

Thanks for reading!

Gazal Sancheti

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