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A stye is a red, painful bump on your eyelids which is caused by bacteria that normally live on your skin and inside your nose.  It develops when the oil-producing glands in your eyelids get blocked for some reason, and that creates perfect conditions for these bacteria to thrive and produce pus. Depending on its size and whether it is located on the interior or the exterior side of your eyelids, you may experience symptoms such as pain, itching, redness, tenderness, discharge from the eye, burning sensation, increased tearing and/or foreign body sensation in the eye.

Styes do not pose a serious threat to the health of your eyes and your vision, but they often cause some serious discomfort for which you might need to consult your optometrist. Although they often resemble a pimple, you should never try to pop them because that could cause an even more serious infection to adjacent tissues.  Instead, you should let it heal on its own, and it will go away in a matter of days. While the stye persists, it is recommended that you discontinue the use of contact lenses and switch to glasses until your symptoms improve. To speed up the healing process, you may apply a hot and moist compress few times a day, which also helps alleviate the pain and discomfort. Heat melts the oily content that is blocking the glands of the eyelid, and the symptoms improve significantly once the pus has been drained away.

If the application of hot compresses does not improve the condition over the next few days, the next logical step is to consult a professional who will most likely prescribe you topical antibiotic ointment and/or drops. Sometimes when the stye does not respond well to antibiotic therapy, the next treatment option for your doctor is to remove the eyelashes that are near the stye and then drain it with a thin, sterile needle. Please note that this procedure is very delicate and requires professional experience as well as a steady hand, so it is never a good idea for you to try and pop the stye open in your home.

Styes are highly contagious, but direct contact with an infected person is not the only way one could develop a stye – everyone has the risk of developing it at a certain point in life by outside contamination e.g from rubbing your eyes without washing your hands first. It is therefore very important to minimize the skin contact and avoid the use of common items (pillows, towels, make-up etc.) with persons that have developed styes, and maintain proper hygiene of your hands and face. Frequently washing your hands as well as regularly cleaning your eyelids with water and a gentle soap is the best way to prevent styes, especially if you experience them often. If you use make-up, make sure that it is completely removed before you go to bed. Also, keep track of the expiration date of make-up and contacts, and never use them for longer than you are supposed to.

If you follow these simple hygiene tips, you will be less likely to suffer from not only styes, but also any other kinds of eye infections. Should you have any doubts on how to keep your eyes healthy and your vision clear, you are always welcome to contact us here at Lakes Family Eye Care and we will try to resolve all of your questions and concerns.