Last Updated October 11th, 2019
What is causing the discomfort in the eye?
A bacterial infection causing a lump on the eyelash or under the eyelid is called stye or hordeolum and has an appearance of a pimple. Since they occur on a tender part of the skin, they are quite painful and uncomfortable. They can develop both inside and outside the eyelid. They are generally not problematic and resolve on their own within a week without any medical intervention. Styes developing inside the eyelid tend to be more painful whereas external styes are less painful and ooze out pus when mature. A warm compress can help release the pus easily.
- Around 90-95% of cases of hordeolum are caused by Staphylococcus aureus and Staphylococcus epidermidis.
- There is a slight increase in the incidence of stye in the age group of 30 and 50.
- Styes do not cause vision problems.
- Styes are not contagious, but the bacterial infection can spread.
Types of hordeolum
It develops at the base of the eyelash due to an infection in the hair follicle resembling a pimple. They can be filled with pus and are painful to touch. Infection of any of the following may cause external hordeolum.
- Eyelash follicle – These are small holes from which eyelashes grow. Infection or blockage of these holes can cause external hordeolum.
- Sebaceous gland – The eyelash follicle is attached to the sebaceous gland, which produces an important fluid called sebum. Sebum helps lubricate the eye and avoid dryness of the eyes.
- Apocrine gland – The eyelash follicle is connected to another gland called apocrine gland, which is a sweat gland and helps in keeping the eyes wet.
It develops inside the eyelid due to an infection in an oil-producing gland. They are much more painful than external hordeolum. Infection of the meibomian gland causes internal hordeolum. The meibomian gland secretes a fluid that forms a coating for the eye. Internal hordeolum can cause constant pain and irritation in the eye with a feeling of something stuck in the eye.
Signs and symptoms of stye
A small red lump resembling a pimple or boil is the most relevant sign and symptom of stye. Generally, they occur at the edge of the eyelid and are filled with pus. Generally, only one stye develops but in certain cases multiple styes can develop at the same time. Some of the common symptoms of stye include a pus-filled lump on the eyelid resembling a boil, swelling of the eyelid, feeling of obstruction when opening and closing the eyelid, pain in the eyelids, crusting along the eyelid, itchiness of the eye, as well as watering of the eye.
The next big question is can styes be contagious. It is just a localized inflammation and it is absolutely not contagious, but the bacteria affecting the stye are contagious and can spread.
A chalazion can be confused for a stye since they are quite similar in appearance. The biggest difference between chalazion and stye is that chalazion is not painful whereas styes are painful. Chalazions are comparatively larger than styes.
Causes & risk factors associated with stye
How do you get a stye and why does anyone even get it is the question that might strike your mind when you are one of the unlucky ones to experience it. The answer to this question can be explained by understanding how a pimple develops. You should be aware that clogged and irritated skin glands lead to pimples. Similarly, clogging and infection of the eyelid glands causes styes. The infection of the eyelid is generally associated with bacteria called staphylococcus.
The oil glands of the eyelid produce sebum and this combines with the sweat to lubricate the eyes. When dead skin cells mix with the oil, the gland becomes clogged and leads to infection causing a stye.
The risk factors associated with stye formation include the blockage of the meibomian gland. Since this gland is responsible for the production of sebum, it is important for this gland to function properly. Few people are known to have meibomian gland dysfunction causing malfunction of the meibomian gland with suboptimal sebum flow. Another risk factor is related to scar tissue formation at the opening of the gland which can obstruct the flow of sebum. Other risk factors include clogging due to dust particles, cosmetics use, etc.
What is chalazion?
Swelling of the inner part of the eyelid due to clogging of oil gland is called chalazion. Initially, they are quite similar to an internal hordeolum. Chalazion tends to grow bigger and may hardly cause any pain. It may cause redness and swelling of the eyelid and become tender when they become extremely large and may press on the eye. People suffering from blepharitis and rosacea are likely to develop a chalazion.
What is the difference between a stye and a chalazion?
There are some specific differences found with the characteristics of chalazion and stye. It can be quite similar when it first appears. As far as the characteristics of a stye are concerned, they develop at the edge of the eyelid, become very painful and are caused by clogged and infected eyelash root. It may also swell and affect the entire eyelid.
On the other hand, chalazion develops far more inside the eyelid, hardly causes any pain, and is caused by a clogged oil gland. It rarely affects the entire eyelid. Treatment of stye only requires applying heat to the area whereas chalazion requires medical treatment. Your doctor may prescribe some preventive regimens such as cleaning the eyelids, topical application of medication to the eyelid as well as oral medications to treat the underlying condition such as blepharitis and rosacea.
Small chalazions do not require treatment, whereas persistent and bothersome chalazions require a minor surgery at the doctor’s office.
Complications associated with stye
It is extremely rare for any complication to occur with respect to the development of stye. Possible complications are discussed below:
As discussed earlier, meibomian gland discharges sebum that lubricates the eye. A stye develops when this gland becomes infected and clogged. Regular formation of stye inside the eyelid may lead to cyst formation at the opening of the meibomian gland. This occurs especially when the gland is obstructed but is usually treatable.
Preseptal or periorbital cellulitis
Since stye is caused by a bacterial infection, untreated or partially treated infection may spread to the surrounding tissues around the eye. This type of infection is called preseptal or periorbital cellulitis where the skin around the eye becomes red and swollen. Antibiotics are required to treat this condition.
The complications associated with stye are extremely rare and the majority of cases of stye can be treated with minimal medical care.
Conventional Treatment for Stye
A stye may just appear to be a small pimple, but it could be quite painful and disturbing which most people do not enjoy. If you are experiencing one you are not alone since it is quite common. Another positive indication is that it does not fall under any major health concern. It can be easily treated and in fact, they resolve on their own when left alone.
You can, in fact, treat your stye at the comfort of your home. It should be noted that a stye cannot be cured overnight even though they cause a significant amount of problems. You should never try to pop a stye as it may cause serious damage to the eye and eyelid when a stye is forcefully popped.
Both conventional and natural treatment for stye recommends warm compresses. This treatment is by far the most efficient and successful remedy. The next step is keeping the eye clean by washing it frequently and avoiding any cosmetics. Your doctor would generally prescribe topical antibiotic cream or eye drops. If the stye persists, oral antibiotics may be prescribed to treat the infection. In the majority of cases, styes go away by themselves and do not require medical treatment.
Home Remedies for Stye
As discussed earlier, the treatment of stye does not require anything more than just a few home remedies as they tend to resolve naturally. Some of the most simple and inexpensive ways to treat stye at the comfort of your home are discussed below.
A stye can be treated and cured quicker when you apply a warm compress to the eye. This will help the stye to mature and drain the pus quickly. You can do the warm compress with the use of a clean cloth. Dip the cloth in warm water and wring it so that the water is not dripping. Apply this cloth to the affected eye. Continue the procedure for 10 to 15 minutes several times a day. This can provide relief from pain and speed up the healing process.
Avoid contact lenses and cosmetics
Self-treating your stye requires patience. If you are used to wearing contact lenses, try to avoid them until the stye clears up. It may be difficult to go back to glasses, but this seems to be a better option since contact lenses may carry bacteria and cause infection since it is placed inside the eye. For a safety measure, it is advised to use a new pair of contact lenses once the stye clears up. Another important thing to avoid is cosmetics. Never apply any eye makeup when you have a stye. This can lead to irritation and other complications.
Eyelid care with the use of coriander seeds
Washing the eyelids thoroughly is the first step towards preventing and treating a stye. You can use a gentle soap and warm water to clean the eyelids to clear up a bacterial infection. Similarly, tea can be made with coriander seeds and allowed to cool down. This tea may be later used to wash the eyes. Since coriander seeds have antibacterial properties, they are helpful in treating the bacterial infection and relieve the symptoms sooner.
Black or green tea
This is similar to applying a warm compress. A black or green tea bag can be used to provide warm compresses. This method is useful since the tea bag can reduce inflammation. You can use a black tea or green tea bag and wait until it is warm. You can place the warm tea bags on the eye to provide the warm compress, which can relieve symptoms of inflammation and pain.
Cucumbers and potatoes
Inflammation can be reduced not only from warm compress but also by applying something cool. Applying a cool compress can work wonders by reducing inflammation and irritation. Slices of cucumber or potato can be placed on the affected eye. This would provide a soothing effect as well as moisture to the area and reduce inflammation and irritation.
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