Stye

Specialty of Ophthalmology

What is it?

A stye is the result of an inflammation on or inside the eyelid or around the eye. It is a red, hard and painful lump originating from the eyelid’s sebaceous glands or from the eyelashes’ follicles.

What are the symptoms?

The symptoms of a stye include a painful lump which grows more and more red, lacrimation and, sometimes, a scratchy sensation on the inside of your eyelid. The signs of a stye on the outer eyelid are caused by bacteria attacking the follicles, thus accumulating pus.

If you do not have treatment early on, the infection may evolve into a chalazion (a type of cyst).

How is it diagnosed?

In order to diagnose it, your doctor will simply take a look at the infection to determine what stage it has reached.

What causes a stye?

A stye originates from a bacterial infection, mainly from the Staphylococcus bacterium, which penetrates into the eyelashes’ follicles and causes an infection of the sebaceous glands. The bacterium is transmitted by direct contact: the simple act of touching your eyes can be enough.

How can it be prevented?

Avoiding infection involves proper eye and facial hygiene and refraining from touching your eyes excessively. It is also very important to pay attention to proper hand hygiene and to changehand towels as frequently as possible.

If you wear make-up, remove it completely before going to bed. You shouldn’t share any eye cosmetics. Make sure you replace your eye make-up regularly.

How is it treated?

Most cases of styes usually resolve on their own after seven to ten days. From the moment the stye bursts open and starts releasing the pus, it will heal on its own. However, you should remember not to touch or try to burst the stye open yourself, because this could further aggravate and spread the infection.

In order to help the stye heal, you could apply warm compresses on your eyelid. If the infection has been going on for a long time, you could also use a macrolide antibiotic-based ophthalmic ointment - that should stop the bacteria from spreading.

For more severe cases, the doctor may decide to remove the eyelashes closest to stye, so that the pus is released more easily.

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