Sty (or Hordeolum) refers to the acute infection in the eyelid secretory glands. This is usually caused by blocked glands within the eyelid. When there is a blockage, the oil that the gland produces backs up and forms a red, painful and nodular lump on the wall of the gland. Bacteria that infect the clogged gland would cause redness, inflammation and pain in the eye.
The primary cause of styes is obstructed opening of the eyelid oil glands. It can also be caused by bacterial infection, commonly the Staphylococcus Bacteria. Seborrhea or excessive discharge of oil from the glands can also trigger the infection. Blockage of the glands can be due to a number of factors, which may include improper removal of eye makeup, use of expired cosmetics, poor eyelid hygiene, inflammatory eyelid disease like blepharitis, meibomitis, and rosacea, stress and hormonal changes.
Signs and Symptoms
A lump on the bottom or top eyelid is the most obvious sign of sty. There is also pain, localized swelling, redness, tenderness, crusting of eyelid margins, eyelid droopiness, itchy eyeball, blurred vision, mucous discharge and burning sensation in the eye.
Although most of these infections can go away on their own within a few days to one week, you can help relieve pain and swelling by applying warm compress on top of the eyelid four to six times a day, 15 minutes per session to help with the drainage. You should also gently scrub your eyelid with a mild non-irritating soft clothes or teabag. See to it that you close your eyes while you scrub. Never squeeze or puncture a sty as this can lead to a more serious infection. Stop using eye makeup or eye lotions and creams as these may be the cause of the infection. Don’t wear contact lenses either because they can cause for the infection to spread to the cornea of your eyes.
If symptoms persist, visit your doctor. Your doctor would probably give you pain medication such as acetaminophen (Tylenol). In some cases, oral and topical antibiotics are prescribed. These are usually for people with sties that do not go away or those who have other conditions like blepharitis or rosacea. IV antibiotics may be given to people whose infection has spread. An ophthalmologist may also remove the pus from the sty by making a tiny cut and draining the pus. Don’t attempt to do this yourself.
There are plenty of preventive measures that can help ensure that you don’t experience this problem again or for the first time. First, good hand and facial washing habits should be practiced. When you wake up in the morning, apply a warm washcloth to the eyelids to reduce risk of oil gland blockage. Never share makeup particularly eye cosmetic items such as eyelash curlers. Throw away old or contaminated makeup. Taking in oral flaxseed dietary supplement would also help.