A stye is known as a hordeolum and a very common condition that affects many people. They are swollen red lumps that form along the edge of your eyelid and very close to the lashes. They can sometimes occur inside or under the eyelid as well.

Styes are usually a minor annoyance and only need home treatment. Some situations do require a consultation with your doctor. There are two types of styes, depending on where they are located. The external styes are located at the base of an eyelash follicle and the internal is found in the oil glands.

A chalazion is very similar to a stye and occurs when an oil gland inside the eyelid becomes clogged with oil. An internal stye can turn into a chalazion without treatment. It is sometimes difficult to tell the difference between a chalazion and a stye, but the chalazion tends to occur further away from the eyelash line than a stye and doesn’t usually cause any discomfort.

Bacterial infection of the eyelash follicle is usually the cause of a stye. The small oil glands that are around the eyelid drain through ducts into the eyelashes. If there is an object that clogs the duct, the oil can’t drain and backs up into the glands that become swollen and causes the stye. There are certain factors that can increase the risk of developing styles. If you have had a stye or chalazion in the past you are more likely to get another one in the future. There are also certain conditions like rosacea or dermatitis that can make a person more likely to get a stye. Some medical issues like diabetes, swelling of the eyelid and high serum lipids can have the same effect. Even using old makeup or not completely removing eye makeup on a regular basis can increase this risk.

Over-the-counter ointments can usually be effective. A simple warm compress, however, is usually the most effective treatment. The warm compress should be applied to the affected area for 15 minutes and done a few times each day until the stye is gone. Do not pop the stye as it can cause the infection to spread to the rest of the eyelid. If it opens on its own, massage the area around the opening to help drain the fluid. Be sure to avoid wearing makeup or contact lenses until the stye has completely healed.

You may get an antibiotic ointment from your provider if the stye becomes infected or does not improve with your home treatment.

A steroid injection to reduce swelling or inflammation can also be administered. If this is not effective, surgical removal may be needed. You will need to consult with an ophthalmologist for this procedure.

To help prevent getting a stye be sure to completely wash makeup off the face and eye area every night to avoid clogging the follicles around the eyes. Replace your eye makeup every 6 months to prevent bacterial growth and infection and do not share makeup with others. Those using contact lenses should practice good hand hygiene with taking out, putting in and caring for their lenses.

Early symptoms of a stye are usually mild but other symptoms may develop that include: a red bump that resembles a pimple, a small yellow spot in the middle of the bump, feeling as though something is in the eye, light sensitivity, eye discharge or crustiness along the eyelid or excessive tear production. Consult a doctor if the stye gets worse quickly, if it is bleeding, if it starts to affect vision, spreads to the white of the eye or there is redness in the cheeks or other parts of the face.

–Dr Fredda Branyon

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