What is a stye?
A stye or sty also known as hordeolum is a red bump, kind of like a pimple, that forms on the outside edge of the eyelid. The eyelids contain lots of tiny oil glands, especially around the eyelashes. These small holes can be blocked or clogged by dead skin, dirt or oil buildup. A stye can be caused to develop when a gland is blocked and bacteria can grow inside
Stye symptoms include:
- pain and swelling
- increase in tear production
- Crust that is formed around the eyelid
- soreness and itchiness
If the stye isn’t painful, it may be a chalazion. Treatment is almost same for chalazions and styes, but a chalazion may take longer to heal.
Below are eight ways to speed up the healing process for styes.
- Use a warm compress
To treat a stye a warm compress is the most effective way. The warmth helps in bringing the pus to the surface and dissolves the pus and oil so the stye can drain naturally.
With warm water, wet a clean washcloth. It should be made sure the water is not too hot. Wring the cloth to damp it but should not be dripping. Then gently place it over the eye for about 5 to 10 minutes. Avoid squeeze or try to puncture the stye.
This can be done 3 to 4 times each day.
- Clean eyelid with mild soap and water
a tear-free baby shampoo should be used and mixed with a bit of warm water. Use the shampoo to gently wipe off the eyelids using a cotton swab or clean washcloth. This can be done every day until the stye is gone. Cleaning the eyelids also helps in preventing future styes.
A saline solution is another option to use. It can help in promoting drainage and breaking down bacterial membranes.
- Use a warm tea bag
In place of using a warm cloth compress, a warm tea bag can be used. Black tea works best because it helps in reducing the swelling and has some antibacterial properties.
Boil water and drop the tea bag in a mug of it as if making tea to drink. Let the tea steep for about one minute. Wait until the tea bag is cool enough to place over the eye, then keep it on the eye for about 5 to 10 minutes. A separate tea bag should be used for each eye.
- Taking over-the-counter painkillers
To ease the pain, take medications like ibuprofen or acetaminophen (Tylenol). Follow the instructions on the package to make sure the correct dosage is being taken. If serious pain is caused by the stye and interferes with the day-to-day activity, visit the doctor.
- Makeup and wearing contact lenses to be avoided
Makeup should be avoided if having a stye. Makeup can delay the healing process and can irritate the eye even more. Bacteria can also be transferred to the makeup and tools and spread the infection to the other eye.
Reusable brushes should be washed regularly. Throw away any eye products that are over three months old.
If wearing contact lenses, stick with glasses until the healing of the stye. Bacteria from the stye can spread the infection when gets onto the contacts.
- Use antibiotic ointments
Over-the-counter stye ointments can be bought from the pharmacy. To use these ointments, the lid of the affected eye should be pulled and apply about a quarter-inch of ointment inside the eyelid.
Using topical steroids for the stye should be avoided as they may cause side effects. Make sure that any product which is used is made to be used in or on the eye. Also, there is little evidence that for external styes antibiotic eye drops work.
- Massage the area to promote drainage
To promote drainage, the area can be massaged in combination with the lid wipes. Massage the area gently with clean hands. Once the stye is drained, keep the area clean and avoid touching rbe eyes. Stop if massaging is hurting.
- Get medical treatment from the doctor
An antibiotic cream for infections may also be prescribed by the doctor. For inflammation, the doctor may give you a steroid shot to decrease the swelling. Sometimes styes need to be drained professionally, especially if they are internal or affect the vision.
A stye should not be popped, squeezed or touched. It might seem tempting, but squeezing will release the pus and can spread the infection. See a doctor if the stye is on the inside of the eyelid. The doctor may drain the stye in their office.
Are styes contagious for other people or infants?
Styes are not contagious directly, just as acne pimples are similarly not contagious. It is a phenomenon caused by local inflammation and irritation that cannot be spread to others through casual contact. Other skin breakouts can be caused due to large number of bacteria in pus
How to prevent styes?
Getting a stye also increases the risk for another one. Styes can be formed inside the eyelid as well. Another stye can be caused through a large number of bacteria in the pus to form in the eye, in the other eye, or even in another person.
To prevent styes
- Before touching the eyes wash hanfs with soap and water.
- Clean the eyelids with a Q-tip dipped in warm water and mild soap or shampoo.
- Before sleeping remove eye makeup every night.
- Sharing towels with someone should be avoided who has a stye.
How long does a stye last?
Swelling for a stye lasts about three days. A stye will generally break open and drain. Eith simple home treatment the healing process can take about 7 to 10 days. Styes are a serious medical issue very rarely but they can be pretty irritating.
When to see a doctor
The doctor should be contacted if the stye:
- is internal
- gets bigger
- becomes more painful
- doesn’t clear up after a few days of home treatment
- affects vision
Also see a doctor if having reoccurring styes. They may be an outcome of an underlying condition such as conjunctivitis, blepharitis, or cellulitis.