What is a Stye?
A lump, a stye or hordeolum can appear inside or outside your eyelid. Typically, this lump is small, painful, and may contain pus, resembling a pimple. If left untreated, it can become a chalazion, a more significant swelling or infection.
Soreness, itchiness, crustiness, swelling, redness, and pain or discomfort are common symptoms of styes, especially larger ones. Styes located on the inside of the eyelid are typically more painful.
It's typical for the condition only to impact one eye. Although the affected eye may appear red, painful, and tearful, most individuals can maintain their vision.
What Causes a Stye?
Infections, typically caused by staphylococcal bacteria, are the usual culprit behind the development of styes. These infections can affect various eye parts, including the glands and hair follicles around the eyelashes. These glands play a crucial role in keeping your eye lubricated, so when a stye develops, it can cause discomfort and redness in the eye.
Attempting to pop or burst a stye is not recommended as it can spread the infection, resulting in multiple styes or an infection in the other eye.
If the stye develops on the inner part of your eye, it may result from a blockage in the meibomian gland. Typically, this gland produces a fluid to maintain the moisture of your eye. Infection of this gland can lead to swelling within your eyelid.
Styes can also be associated with other health issues, such as blepharitis, characterized by inflammation of the eyelids.
What are the Symptoms of a Stye?
The symptoms of a stye include:
- A watery eye
- A crusty eye
- A pus-filled lump on the inside or outside of your eye
- A burning feeling
How long does a Stye last?
Typically, styes are temporary, naturally burst, and heal after a few days as the pus is released. However, if it persists for an extended period, it is advisable to consult a doctor.
Should You Consult a Doctor for a Stye?
Styes typically resolve independently, naturally bursting and allowing any pus to drain away. While it's essential to avoid squeezing or attempting to pop a stye or plucking an eyelash from it, you can take measures to alleviate discomfort and expedite the healing process, which will be discussed in the next section.
If you develop a stye that causes significant pain or affects your vision due to swelling, it's advisable to consult with a doctor. The doctor will inquire about the duration of the eye swelling and any previous similar issues.
Through a video consultation, they can examine your affected eye and discuss your symptoms to provide a diagnosis. In cases of recurrent styes or other eye problems requiring further investigation, you may be referred to an eye specialist.
If the doctor deems the infection severe or identifies the presence of a chalazion, they may prescribe oral antibiotics.
How can I treat a Stye at home?
You can take steps to treat a stye at home, which can help alleviate swelling and pain. Most styes will naturally heal with self-care measures. Here's what you can do:
Apply a warm compress: Soak a clean cloth or flannel in warm water and place it gently against the affected eye for up to 10 minutes, repeating this a few times daily.
Use over-the-counter pain relievers: If the stye is painful, you can consider using over-the-counter pain medications like ibuprofen or paracetamol to help alleviate discomfort.
Avoid makeup: To prevent further infection, avoid using makeup on the affected eye. Additionally, it's important to sterilize your makeup brushes if you have a stye to prevent the spread of infection.
Remove contact lenses: If you wear contact lenses, it's advisable to keep them out of the affected eye until the stye has fully healed.
Doctor's treatment for Styes
Styes typically improve within a few days. If you have a stye that persists for several weeks without improvement, it's advisable to consult a doctor. Some treatments that our doctors may recommend include:
- Stye ointment or stye eye drops.
- Antibiotic eye drops may not be advised unless conjunctivitis is also present.
- In severe cases, oral antibiotics may be prescribed.
- If necessary, the doctor may perform stye drainage using a sterilized needle (do not attempt this on your own).
- Eyelash epilation involves plucking it out to release pus (do not attempt this on your own).
- Drainage of an internal stye, typically performed under local anaesthesia (do not attempt this on your own).
- Referral to a specialist if the issue is not a stye or requires further investigation.
While styes are common, there are preventive measures you can take to reduce your risk of developing them. These include:
- Use a clean washcloth when washing your face.
- Removing eye makeup before bedtime.
- Ensuring your hands are clean when handling contact lenses.
- Avoiding the sharing of towels or washcloths with others.
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