A stye is a small painful lump (cyst) on the inside or outside of the eyelid.
It is usually related to bacterial infections, doctors sometimes refer to them as infected eyelid cysts.
Styes usually affect one eye, but they may enter both eyes or have more than one stye in the same eye.
Some people confuse styes with another type of lump in the eye called chalazions. Unlike styes, chalazions are mostly painless.
Chalazions appear as small bumps on the eyelid that are caused by blocked sebaceous glands. If left untreated, some styes eventually become chalazions.
If you notice a sore spot on the eyelashes without the appearance of a lump, a stye may be starting to develop. Use it as a warning sign and start applying warm compresses to the area immediately.
This allows you to treat the stye as quickly as possible and accelerate healing.
If you find that you have serious problems with your vision and your stye does not heal on its own within a week or two, you should seek the help of a health professional.
Styes may burst as they heal and release fluid or decrease in size without draining, as the immune system fights infection.
The bacterium from a stye can sometimes spread and cause additional sties, causing the person to have multiple styes or the entire eyelid infected.
If you notice that the irritation and swelling have moved beyond your eye and have spread to other areas of your face, such as the cheek, it is best to visit a health professional.
What causes styes?
Styes are usually caused by staphylococcal bacteria, which often live directly on the surface of the skin. Our bodies are covered with billions of friendly bacteria that coexist with us.
When conditions are right, bacteria feast on dead cells and other debris.
- Sensation of a foreign body in the eye (particularly when blinking).
- Eye pressure
- Pain in the area of the lump, although they are often painless.
- Blurred vision may also occur if the sebum or heavy pus in the stye extends over the surface of the eye.
- Presence of a lump or protuberance on the edge of the eyelid.
- Reddening of the skin covering the eyelid.
- Swelling of the eyelid
If the stye is draining material from the opening of the gland, there may be a thick discharge or accumulation of scabby material on the eyelashes.
In some cases, the skin that covers the stye will become thinner and the thick material inside the stye (pus) may exude through a break in the skin. Tears can also occur in response to irritation and pain.
You should clean the affected area, for example, with a swab soaked in a cosmetic gel cleansing product or impregnated wipes for eyelid hygiene. The application of clean and warm wipes will facilitate the evacuation of the pus and relieve pain.
In the case of an external stye, when it is usually pierced after a week, the pus and crusts that are formed should be removed with these products that have been evaluated by ophthalmologists.
If after a week, the stye persists and the pus is still present despite using compresses, do not try to burst it yourself as you are at risk of a more serious infection. Consult your doctor, who will prescribe the correct treatment.
In the case of an internal stye, it is best to consult your doctor immediately.
If you have styes repeatedly, you should also consult your doctor to check you and make sure you do not have a disease that promotes an infection.
The daily hygiene of the eyelids with adequate products will limit the risk of recurrence, warm compresses applied for 5 minutes in a closed eye followed by an eyelid massage.
Is it possible to prevent a stye?
The best prevention is to keep the eyelids and eyelashes clean. This can be done with daily exfoliating shampoos for babies diluted while showering or with eyelid-cleaning pads available in pharmacies. Many people benefit from the daily warm compresses.
It is believed that a diet high in omega-3 fatty acids (eg, fish or nuts) and vegetables has an anti-inflammatory effect and is associated with improved meibomian gland function and better eye health in general.
Ask your ophthalmologist about the use of preventive antibiotics. For example, in adults with chronic recurrent chalazions, oral doxycycline at low doses may help dysfunction of the Meibomian gland, but doxycycline should be avoided in children and women of childbearing age.