What is a stye?
A stye is a tiny bump that looks like a pimple at the edge of the eyelid. It is a nuisance and can be painful, but it is rarely a serious problem.
What is the cause?
Styes are caused by bacteria that infect one of the tiny glands at the base of the eyelid hairs. The gland then becomes inflamed.
What are the symptoms?
The symptoms are swelling and redness in the area of the stye. Often a tiny pimple is present. The infection usually is painful only if it is touched. Sometimes the infection drains and the eyelid returns to normal without treatment.
Styes do not affect vision unless the swelling blocks vision.
How is it diagnosed?
Your healthcare provider will examine your eyelid.
How is it treated?
Sometimes a stye needs to be opened and drained by your healthcare provider for quick healing. Never attempt to open the stye yourself. Serious infection could spread into areas behind and around your eye.
If you have several styes, or if your styes come back, your provider may want you to clean your eyelids regularly, following these steps:
· Moisten a washcloth with warm water and hold it over both eyes for several minutes with a gentle massage. This helps to soften any deposits on the eyelids.
· Add a few drops of baby shampoo to a cup of water. Moisten a cotton swab with this mixture. Using the swab, clean all the deposits from the edges of your eyelids and eyelashes. Use a new swab for each eye. Do not let the swab touch your eyeball.
How long will the symptoms last?
Usually a stye clears up within a week. If you have a stye that lasts longer than this, see your healthcare provider.
How can I take care of myself?
Put a warm, moist washcloth on your eyes for 5 minutes 3 to 4 times a day for several days and use a gentle massage. This helps your body fight the infection and may speed up drainage of the stye. The cloths you use should be clean. Your healthcare provider may also prescribe antibiotic drops or ointment.
How can I help prevent styes?
Keeping your eyelids and eyelashes clean can help. Some people have eyelid glands that are prone to become blocked and infected. If this is the case, it may be a good idea to regularly use warm washcloths on them.