Have you ever had a reddish lump on the outer edge of your upper or lower eyelid? It is called a stye, and it can be uncomfortable and annoying. Today, we talk about everything you need to know about this common eye infection.
The Formation of Stye
A stye is caused by Staphylococcus bacteria that harmlessly lives on your skin. If it reaches your eyelids, the bacteria can become trapped in an oil gland or eyelash follicle, causing an infection. Pus and inflammatory cells collect at the site of infection to combat the bacteria, resulting in a reddish lump filled with pus.
A stye can form outside or inside your eyelid. The external type is much more common and is the one that starts in an eyelash follicle. The internal type starts in one of the meibomian glands, which are tiny oil glands along the margin of the eyelid. It tends to be more painful than an external stye because it pushes on your eye as it grows.
Treatment for Stye
Most of the time, a stye goes away after a week. Applying warm compress can help reduce the pain and swelling and expedite healing. It can help soften the hardened material inside the stye, allowing it to drain. Depending on the type of stye, this home remedy can either draw the pus to the surface or unclog the gland to allow the pus to drain.
However, you may need to request an appointment with your trusted eye doctor if it doesn’t start improving after a few days or is swelling rapidly. The infection could either spread in your eyelid and affect your vision or cause an acute infection of the tissues surrounding the eye called periorbital cellulitis.
If you have a stye, you must take precautions to ensure faster healing. Discontinue wearing contact lenses for a while; otherwise, they can become contaminated. Never attempt to pop the stye to release the pus because it can worsen the infection and cause the bacteria to spread.
Northern Virginia Doctors of Optometry offers comprehensive eye care services, from annual eye exams to low vision therapy. We serve residents of Reston, VA, and the nearby communities. Call (703) 467-9080, or fill out our contact form to request an appointment.