You’d know it if you ever had a stye. An eye stye, clinically called a hordeolum, looks like a big, red pimple on the edge of your eyelid. In actuality it’s a growth that’s due to an infection or injury and it can occur on either your upper or lower eyelid.
Most of the time, an eye stye heals on its own, but occasionally, if it’s really stubborn, you may need to visit your ophthalmologist for treatment that include eye drops or even stye surgery. Styes typically don’t lead to permanent vision problems, but they can impair your sight while they’re active.
Symptoms Associated with Styes
The most obvious sign that you’ve developed a stye is the big bump on your eyelid that looks as if it’s filled with pus, like a pimple. Also, if you’ve had styes in the past, you are more likely to get them in the future, so there’s a good chance that you’ll know it when you see it. You may even be able to catch it in the earliest stages because of your past experience.
Other symptoms can include:
- Swelling in the corner of your eye
- Swelling in your whole eye
- Eye pain
- Tenderness to the touch
- Redness in the area
- Sensitivity to light
- Tearing and watery eyes
- Feeling like there’s some foreign matter in your eye
- Puffiness around your eye
- Gritty or dry feeling
Very often, a stye can subside and disappear on its own after a couple days, but if you still have symptoms after 48 hours, you should visit your ophthalmologist to make sure there’s nothing more serious going on and to get proper treatment. Additionally, if the swelling spreads to other parts of your face or cheeks or if the redness seems to spread, get immediate medical attention from your eye doctor.
Causes of a Stye
Bacterium staphylococcus is the main cause of the eyelid infection that leads to a stye. The staphlococcal bacteria reside in your nose. You spread the infection by rubbing or picking your nose and then rubbing your eyes.
Styes are very contagious, but most everyone carries the bacterium staphylococcus in their noses, so you can develop a stye without getting the bacteria from another person. At the same time, when you do have a stye, you should take extra hygiene precautions so that you don’t spread it to others:
- Wash your hands frequently.
- Don’t share towels, sheets or pillowcases.
- Clean your washcloths after each use.
And when you suspect someone else has a stye, be careful not use items after they do so that you don’t inadvertently pick up the infection and spread it to your eyes.
Risks of Getting One
While being in contact with someone who has a stye certainly puts you at risk of developing the infection yourself, other common risks that you may encounter can include:
- Using expired or old makeup
- Having rosacea, a condition that causes redness on your face
- Sleeping with your eye makeup still on
- Having inflammation on your eyelid that’s known as blepharitis
- Touching your eyes while carrying the bacteria
- Putting in contact lenses without first washing your hands
Getting a Diagnosis
Before seeing your ophthalmologist, prepare for the appointment by making list of all your symptoms. Write down when you first noticed the bump, how long you’ve had it, your history with styes and other questions you may have. Bring a list of all medications, including vitamins and supplements as well.
An ophthalmologist is a trained eye doctor who typically can tell if you have a stye or some other type of eye condition just by looking at you. A magnifier may be used to confirm the diagnosis. Other eye conditions that may lead you to believe that you have a stye, and that your doctor can diagnose as well, include:
- Chalazion stye is an infection caused by a blocked oil gland in your eyelid. The main difference is that chalazion hardens after a few days. They also typically appear further from the edge of your eyelid than a stye.
- Xanthelasma is skin condition that causes yellow-looking bumps to develop under your facial skin. These bumps often are particularly noticeable around your eyes.
- Milia are small white cysts that can develop on the skin surrounding your eyes and nose. Milia are common in babies, but they tend to shed them after a couple weeks. Adults with milia, however, need to see a doctor to have them removed.
How to Get Rid of a Stye?
Once you’ve been definitely diagnosed with a stubborn stye, you have a couple choices that you can talk about with your eye doctor. When the stye is on the inside of your eyelid, you will have to visit your eye doctor, because it won’t clear up on its own. Treatments you might undergo include:
- The first thing your doctor may suggest consists of home remedies that include placing a clean, wet cloth over your eye for five to 10 minutes. Repeating this three or four times a day, coupled with light massage, may break up the unwanted infection so that it can disperse.
- You may have to take antibiotic pills or tablets to beat the infection, especially if the stye has spread beyond your eyelid.
- Antibiotic eye drops or antibiotic topical eye creams also may be used directly on the stye.
- Stye surgery may be an option if nothing else works. Surgery is performed in the office and merely consists of your eye doctor making a small incision to drain the pus.
Warnings and Consequences
A stye should be allowed to pop and drain on its own or with the assistance of your ophthalmologist. Never pop a stye like you do an errant pimple on your face. You could cause serious damage to your eye or increase the rate of infection.
Left untreated, a stye that doesn’t go away on its own can lead to a condition called pre-septal cellulitis, which can cause more a more serious infection. Pre-septal cellulitis can only be treated successfully in the hospital with intravenous antibiotics. It’s much easier to prevent a stye with common-sense hygiene such as repeated hand washing throughout the day and avoiding contact with another person who has a stye.
Important Reminder: This information is only intended to provide guidance, not a definitive medical advice. Please consult eye doctor about your specific condition. Only a trained, experienced board certified eye doctor can determine an accurate diagnosis and proper treatment.
Do you have any questions about Eye Stye? Would like to schedule an appointment with a best Ophthalmologist or Optometrist, Dr. Saba Khodadadian of Manhattan Eye Specialists, please contact our office for consultation with NYC Eye doctor.
Dr. Saba Khodadadian, Optometrist (NYC Eye Doctor)
New York, NY 10010
(Between Madison Ave & Park Ave)
☎ (212) 533-4821