Styes are common with most people experiencing one or two of them at some stage in their life.
Styes are usually visible on the surface but can appear deeper inside the eyelid.
An external stye starts as a small spot next to an eyelash. It turns into a red, painful swelling that usually lasts several days before it bursts and then heals. Most external styes are short-lived and self-limiting.
An internal stye (on the underside of the lid) also causes a red, painful swelling, but its location prevents the familiar whitehead from appearing on the eyelid. The internal stye may disappear completely once the infection is past, or it may leave a small fluid-filled cyst or nodule that can persist and may have to be opened and drained.
People tend to confuse a stye with another common lid lump, the chalazion. A chalazion is very different from a stye and is not an infection. It is instead a firm, round, smooth, painless bump usually some distance from the edge of the lid. A chalazion is a local tissue reaction to oily glandular secretions that were unable to reach the lid surface because the duct was blocked by debris.
Styes and chalazia are usually harmless and rarely affect your eyeball or your eyesight. They can occur at any age and tend to periodically recur.
Styes are usually caused by staphylococcal bacteria, which often live right on theskin surface. Our bodies are coated with billions of friendly bacteria that coexist with us. When the conditions are just right the bacteria feast on dead cells and other debris, resulting in the tender pimple.
A chalazion is caused by the blockage of tiny eyelid gland ducts that normally transport an oily substance that helps lubricate the eye. This oily material enters the tear film to prevent tear evaporation. Trapped or misplaced oil stimulates the immune system to clean up the mess. Chalazia develop over weeks to months.
If you have a stye, your eye may also be watery and you may have a red eye or eyelid.
A stye – also called a hordeolum – usually only affects one eye, although it’s possible to have styes in both eyes or to have more than one stye in the same eye. Your vision shouldn’t be affected.A sty is a red, painful lump near the edge of your eyelid that may look like a boil or a pimple. Sties are often filled with pus. A sty usually forms on the outside of your eyelid. But sometimes it can form on the inner part of your eyelid.
In most cases, a sty will begin to disappear on its own in a couple days. In the meantime, you may be able to relieve the pain or discomfort of a sty by applying a warm washcloth to your eyelid.
There are two types of stye. They are:
Styes are usually caused by an infection with staphylococcus bacteria (staphylococcal infection).
Long-term blepharitis (inflammation of the eyelids) may also increase the risk of developing a stye.
Styes are fairly common and you may have at least one or two during your lifetime.A sty is caused by an infection of oil glands in the eyelid. The bacterium staphylococcus is responsible for most of these infections.
Signs and symptoms of a sty include:
Another condition that causes inflammation of the eyelid is a chalazion. A chalazion occurs when there’s a blockage in one of the small oil glands at the margin of the eyelid, just behind the eyelashes. Unlike a sty, a chalazion usually isn’t painful and tends to be most prominent on the inner side of the eyelid. Treatment for both conditions is similar.
Most sties are harmless to your eye and won’t affect your ability to see clearly. Try self-care measures first, such as applying a warm washcloth to your closed eyelid for 5 to 10 minutes several times a day and gently massaging the eyelid. Contact your doctor if:
If styes tend to recur, you probably need to practise better eyelid hygiene. That means regular lid scrubs to remove excess germs and cellular debris. Put a few drops of mild baby shampoo into a teacup of warm water and stir. Using a cotton wool ball, gently brush the soapy solution along the base of your eyelashes while keeping your lids closed. If you don’t have time to mix up baby shampoo, scrub your closed lids with a soapy flannel in the shower.
Regardless of the technique, it is the mechanical rubbing that keeps the lids clear of cellular debris. It is always important that you avoid contact of the eyelid with cosmetics, dirty towels or contaminated hands.
Recurrent styes may be associated with a chronic facial skin problem calledrosacea. Your doctor or dermatologist will be able to confirm the presence of rosacea and recommend effective medical therapy.
Many people with styes experience pinpoint tenderness involving a few eyelashes as an early warning. Frequent application of warm compresses at the first sign of an infection will speed resolution and help prevent further blockage of the lid glands.
Most styes get better without treatment within a few days or weeks.
External styes may turn into yellow spots and release pus after three to four days. Internal styes are more painful and may last slightly longer.
A warm compress (a cloth warmed with warm water) held against the eye will encourage the stye to release pus and heal more quickly.
Further treatment isn’t usually needed unless your stye is very painful and isn’t getting better. In this case, your GP may decide to drain it.
Complications can include:
In most cases, styes don’t require medical care. Call your health careprovider if: