A stye is an inflammation of part of the eyelid, usually at the lash line. Another term for a stye is a hordeolum. Styes are more common in children than in adults. Once identified, a stye can typically be treated easily at home.
A stye looks very similar to a small pimple. It can can become infected and then become very red, swollen, and tender.
Styes are caused by a clogged oil-producing or sweat gland at the eyelid and can be present on either the upper or lower lash line. These oil- and sweat-producing glands help to lubricate the eyes. Occasionally you can have a blockage underneath the eyelid; these tend to not be as painful as styes on the lash line. These styes underneath are called chalazion and are treated the same way.
The bacteria staphylococcus aureus commonly cause the infection.
Common symptoms of a stye are:
- Swelling of the eyelid
- Redness of the affected area, typically at the edge of the eyelid near the lash line
- Pain over the affected/reddened area
- Tenderness, sometimes with blinking
A stye can typically be diagnosed with a thorough history and examination.
- Good hygiene, including washing the face and eyes daily, including removing all makeup on the eyes prior to bed.
- Disposing of eye makeup when appropriate — usually every 3-6 months.
- Washing hands often to prevent any infection.
- Proper eye care when using/wearing contacts
- Avoid rubbing or touching eyes
- Warm compresses for 5-10 minutes several times a day: wet a washcloth with warm water, wring it out, and apply washcloth to eye- repeat with a new washcloth each time.
- Avoid wearing makeup or contacts until the stye has resolved.
- Sometimes an antibiotic ointment or drop will be given at the appointment to help prevent the infection to spreading to other parts of the eye; this will not help the stye resolve any faster.
- Gentle reminders not to rub the affected eye, and especially no squeezing or applying pressure to the stye.
Styes should begin to improve over the first 3-4 days of treatment.
WHEN TO CALL THE OFFICE
- If the stye doesn’t improve in the 3-4 days, or if it worsens.
- If pain worsens.
- If redness spreads to other parts of the eye, or past the first affected part of the eyelid.
- If there is pain with eye movement, or increased sensitivity to light.
A stye is a common problem, but it can present similarly to other, more serious problems so it’s always a good idea to give us a call if a problem arises.
Jonette McClelland is a Certified Registered Nurse Practitioner.