Eye Styes: How to Identify and Treat Them
A sty, which is also known as a stye or hordeolum is an infection of the eyelid that causes red bumps around the eye. It is a bacterial infection and can be found around the base of the eyelashes, which is external hordeolum. When the infection is in the inside of the eyelid it is called internal hordeolum.
There are seven things to keep in mind when dealing with a sty:
- Pain, redness, and even swelling are some of the first signs of an eye sty.
- Styes will not cause vision problems in most cases.
- Staphylococcal bacteria is the cause of styes.
- Due to their bacterial nature, styes are contagious.
- It is most likely to go away on its own.
- Do not attempt to pop the sty.
- It is possible that styes will appear in conjunction with other eye problems.
Symptoms and Causes of Eye Styes
The first signs of a sty are pain and redness. After these initial symptoms, a small pimple-like obtrusion will appear on the eyelid. The affected area may be swollen or the entire eyelid may swell. The infected eye will often water, eyes may be sensitive to light, and you will feel like something is in your eye. While not dangerous, these symptoms are irritating. Remember, styes do not cause vision problems. You should be able to see as well as you do when you are not experiencing a sty.
The primary cause of the bacterial infection is rubbing the nose, then the eye. Styes are contagious, as previously mentioned; however, most people already have this bacterium in their body. Styes are often caused by internal contamination, meaning styes are not often caused by being in contact with another person. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be weary of transferring the bacteria to someone else. Always be cautious not to contaminate another person. There is no way to know what type of bacteria you are transferring which could cause a number of different infections.
Treatment of Styes
To speed up recovery and lessen your chances of infecting another person, you should keep your eyes clean or flushed and keep your hands clean. To lower the swelling, you can use a hot compress for around fifteen minutes several times per day. In just a few days, your problem will begin to relieve itself. The sty will eventually burst, drain, and heal. Again, do not attempt to drain or pop the sty on your own. The sty should be allowed to run its course and heal on its own.
If you develop a sty on the inside of the eye, an internal hordeolum, this type may not heal on its own. If your sty is inside the eyelid, you may need to see an eye doctor. The doctor may choose to open and drain the sty. However, sometimes even internal hordeolums will heal on their own given a little time.
If you find that you develop styes often, you should visit your doctor. You may be prescribed antibiotics in the form of ointments. These ointments will help prevent the repeated development of styes.
Styes can last quite a few days. The swelling lasts for about three days. The sty then drains. After the healing process has completed, the entire process will have been no longer than ten days. This is with home treatment. Common styes are rarely worth seeing a doctor over, but they are an irritating problem for many people.
Home Treatments for Styes
Even though styes are harmless, it is normal for you to want to get rid of them as quickly as possible. There are several home remedies that could help you get rid of styes as quickly as possible. If these remedies don’t totally eliminate the sty, they will help lessen the pain associated with this bacterial ailment.
- Tear-free baby shampoo is great for keeping your eye clean while experiencing a sty. The shampoo is a great way to wash away germs and bacteria that may be in your eye. After applying the product, rinse your eyelids with warm water and use a towel to pat them dry.
- Always wash your hands thoroughly after touching a sty. You don’t want to spread the bacteria to the other eye or to someone else. Dispose of all materials used to wash or dry your eye. If you use a hand towel, immediately throw it in the washer so no one else picks it up and infects themselves.
- Saline solution is another great remedy for a sty. Just like tear-free baby shampoo, saline solution will cleanse the eye, removing harmful bacteria and other germs.
- Specific products are made to clean the eyelid. They are non-prescription products which can be found at most pharmacies.
- Stop wearing makeup on the eyelid until the sty has healed. You may feel compelled to cover up the swelling, but this is a bad idea. The makeup can slow down the healing process, extending how long you will be in pain.
- If you wear contact lenses, switch to eyeglasses for a while. Putting contact lenses inside your eye will irritate the eye causing prolonged discomfort.
- Warm compression just a few times a day for ten to fifteen minutes is a great way to lower the swelling. Something as simple as dipping a hand towel in hot water and putting it on the eye is sufficient. You can also use a teabag in place of the wash cloth. Make a cup of tea normally but use the teabag as a warm compress. The warmth from the compress makes the sty come to a head much faster.
- Over-the-counter pain killers can lessen the pain associated with a sty, but these medicines will not directly help the sty.
- Although not a home remedy, eye doctors can surgically open the sty, if all other methods are exhausted.
- Special ointments for styes are also sold over the counter and are great for treating styes. It only takes a small dose to help. If you are looking for an ointment to apply to your eye, then do not get a steroid ointment. Get one of these special sty ointments instead. You can massage the area that is afflicted by the sty. This promotes drainage. However, if massaging causes pain, you should stop. Be sure to only touch your eye with clean hands and wash your hands afterward.
Eye Conditions Similar to Styes
There are other problems that can sometimes resemble a simple sty. For example, a chalazion is a growth that can block the oil gland in the eye. Both a chalazion and a sty begin in the same way. However, a chalazion will stay for several months. If this occurs, you need to have a doctor drain the chalazion, possibly even injecting a steroid into the eyelid to encourage the healing process. Unlike the sty, the chalazion forms further away from the corner of the eyelid. This is the easiest way to differentiate styes from chalazions.
A milia, also known as milk spots and oil seeds, is a tiny white cyst. It appears on the outer skin layer of the skin around the eye. They can also appear closer to the nose. The cause of this is when dead skin doesn’t fall all the way off. Instead, the skin is trapped over the base of a sweat gland. The milia resembles a whitehead; it is a small pinhead-type bump. It is most common in newborns, but sometimes adults can suffer from milia too. Babies and newborns can fight milia on their own, but adults will often need to see a doctor.
Xanthelasma, which is a type of xanthoma, is yet another ailment that can resemble a simple sty. It appears around the eyelids and originates under the skin. They differ from styes because they are several millimeters thick and yellowish in color. They also come in a particular pattern; they look like small discs. Xanthelasma generally causes no problems other than cosmetic. They can be surgically removed should you wish.
Prevent Styes in the Future
The best way to prevent suffering from future styes is by washing your eyelids regularly. The best time to wash your eyelids is just before bed time. Washing your eyelids is extremely useful if you wear eye makeup.
Can You Pop a Sty?
Do not attempt to pop a sty prematurely. Let the sty come to a head on its own. If you pop the infection prematurely, you risk spreading it to other parts of your body. Either let the sty run its course and heal itself, or visit the eye doctor. Either of these options is much better than popping the sty. The sty will only last a little while, so you shouldn’t worry too much about trying to pop them yourself.
Is a Sty Contagious?
We all have the bacteria in our body which causes styes to occur. Technically, styes can be contagious, so you should avoid situations that lead to your eye coming into contact with other people. Do not have people inspect or touch the eye. Touching an infected eye can lead to cross contamination and lead to other infections. Do not let people touch your sty, and always wash your hands to avoid passing it on to other people.
You Should See Your Doctor If:
- the sty is internal;
- it gets larger;
- it increases in pain;
- it doesn’t clear up sooner than ten days;
- your vision is affected;
- styes are a common occurrence for you.