A stye in the eye is not the most attractive of things.
If you are the unfortunate person who has a stye, the people you meet and make eye contact with will unashamedly firstly inspect your blemished eye before pronouncing “What’s wrong with your eye?”
It would be nice to be able to reply that you’ve had some grit or dust get into your eye, but instead you have to own up to having a highly contagious eye infection caused by bacteria on the skin.
Whilst generally caused by staphylococcal bacteria that lays dormant ready to start infection near damaged or cut skin near the eye, a stye can erupt when a duct that leads from the oil producing glands becomes blocked and a type of pimple develops.
Styes can be external on the eyelid where the lashes grow or internal, underneath the eyelid but still eventually becoming visible and definitely unattractive.
Lack of hygiene especially with respect to face and eye cleanliness is a common cause of a stye, so no wonder you would become embarrassed at having one.
Other factors reputed to affect the propensity to develop styes are lack of sleep and poor nutrition – these two being seen as common factors in many eye disorders. Rubbing the eyes can easily turn a mild infection in to a more serious one leading to more than one stye, and in both eyes.
Being bacteria based, it’s important not to infect others, so sharing towels or face cloths is definitely out; and here you might think that no-one would do such a thing, but it’s a common occurrence at bath time if a few children are involved.
- Swelling of the eye and a painful sensation when blinking
- Itching as if grit or dust were in the eye
- The formation of a pimple type small lump on the upper or lower eyelid
- Increased redness that slowly extends along the eyelid
- Watery eyes and maybe sensitivity to light and glare
A head appearing on the infectious bump.
Now you might have burst or pricked a pimple on your face or body before and lived to tell the tale, but do NOT attempt to do the same with a stye!
A simple inspection by your optometrist or ophthalmologist will determine whether or not you have a stye or the beginnings of something more serious.
If it is indeed a stye that you have, then all that may be recommended is that you apply a warm cloth for a few minutes on a regular basis. Sometimes a course of antibiotics may be prescribed especially if the stye has been around for a while or re-infection keeps occurring. Medication may be topical – ointment applied physically to the eyelid – or oral. Oral antibiotics are far more effective as they get to the source of the problem. Topical ointments might help in protecting other oil glands but they are relatively ineffective in treating the existing stye.
If all else fails, some minor surgery to lance the stye might be the way to go.
- Cleanliness is the key, so washing hands regularly and use of clean dry towels or hand driers.
- Keep fingers out of the eyes. If you do need to rub the eye areas then use a quality tissue.
- Cleaning eyelids with cotton buds and a mild dilution of baby shampoo is effective.
- Pay attention to nutrition – especially taking regular fish oil. Fish oil is very effective in all things about eyes.
- Women who wear makeup should remove makeup before bed and probably clear out old makeup – why not get a whole new kit?
Could the Stye be Something More Serious?
The stye could be the start of a chalazion, when a tear duct becomes blocked and swelling develops. It is not in fact serious but might take more effort to treat, and it’s not infectious so you need not feel embarrassed!
A difference between a stye and a chalazion is that usually a stye grows outwards from the eye whereas a chalazion grows inwards.