What is a Stye. What causes them? How do I prevent them?
If you find yourself troubled by a small pimple-like growth on the inside or outside of your eye, you may be afflicted by a stye. While styes tend to be harmless and will most often heal on their own, knowing some simple facts about them can help us treat or even avoid these causes for discomfort.
Why They Happen
Also known as a hordeolum, a stye is a localized infection caused by “staph,” the staphylococcus bacterium. This bacterium is often located in the nose, and can be easily transferred from the nose to the eye. This infection often causes a blocked oil gland or follicle at the root of an eyelash.
Because styes are caused by bacteria, they are also contagious: if someone in your household is infected, it’s important to wash any shared facial items like washcloths, towels, sheets, and pillows.
Though styes can be uncomfortable, unsightly, and even painful, they are usually not serious. Most styes will go away on their own or burst after several days. There are a few things that may help make a stye disappear faster.
Keep It Clean
Styes might cause some crust to collect along the eyelid, so keeping the area clean may help your eye heal faster and help prevent other styes from forming. Most clinics carry eye-friendly cleansers that can be used to clean the lids without burning or stinging the eye. When you have a stye, you can also keep your eye as clean as possible by avoiding eye makeup to help speed up the healing process.
Warm It Up
Applying a heat pack approved for use on the eye will speed up the healing process. Use of heat will allow the stye to open naturally and more quickly than it would have otherwise. Once opened, the stye can drain and heal on its own.
Though a stye may look like a pimple, do NOT try to treat it like one – no popping! Bursting a stye by force could spread the bacteria across the eyelid, prolonging the situation. A stye will rupture naturally when it’s ready to do so. If, however, a stye does not improve after a couple of weeks – or if it gets worse – a medical professional can help to lance a stye or prescribe an antibiotic to treat the infection. It’s also important to contact your doctor if your eyelid swells, won’t open all the way, turns very red, or if you can’t see well due to a stye.
An Ounce of Prevention
Though styes can be a painful nuisance, luckily, avoiding them is relatively simple. Good eyelid hygiene can greatly reduce the risk of styes. By cleaning eyelids thoroughly once or twice a day, avoid applying eye liner to the inner margin of the lid and making sure to remove all eye makeup will help you to avoid this common eye problem.