Styes are common, irritating, and uncomfortable. They’re difficult to live with, so is there any way to help them heal faster? And can they be avoided altogether? Taking a proactive approach to your eye health can mean fewer infections and eye problems, including styes.
A stye is a swollen, somewhat painful bump on the upper or lower eyelid. It can appear on the inside or the outside, and sometimes appears to have a white head similar to a pimple. Although styes don’t typically cause vision problems, they are contagious and can be quite uncomfortable. Most patients feel as though there is a foreign body inside their eye.
Styes develop when an oil gland on one of your eyelids becomes infected with staphylococcal bacteria (which is carried in the nose). The infection causes the gland to fill with fluid, becoming inflamed, sore, and red. The bump made by the infection is considered an abscess.
A stye will cause the eyelid to appear red and swollen. The swollen eyelid is quite tender and hot to the touch. Most patients feel as though there is a foreign object caught in their eye. Usually, a stye is visible on the very edge of the eyelid, however, they can develop inside the lid, making them harder to see.
What you think is a stye could be another sort of eye infection. If you’re unsure, you should see a doctor for an official diagnosis. Only a healthcare professional can tell you with certainty if what you’re experiencing is a stye or not.
While there are treatments to help relieve the discomfort of a stye, the best thing is to avoid them in the first place. Keep your eyelids clean by washing or scrubbing them regularly with a gentle cleanser. Diluted baby shampoo and a cotton swab are an excellent way to wash your eyelids and avoid infection.
Much like a pimple, heat can help bring the infection to the surface. Apply a warm compress to the stye a few times a day, and the fluid inside will come to a head. Even if the stye appears to have a white head, do not pop it. This could damage your eye and cause further infection. The stye will rupture on its own, bringing relief when it does.
While pain medications won’t help the stye go away any faster, they may help relieve your discomfort. Be sure to follow all instructions included with the pain medications and don’t exceed the recommended dose. If the pain is excruciating, see your doctor.