What is a Stye & What Causes It?

A stye (referred to as a “hordeolum” by doctors) is a red, painful lump on the surface of your eyelid.  Filled with pus and inflammatory cells, a stye greatly resembles a pimple – but on your eyelid, OUCH!  Before you start to fret about the unattractive and tender red lump on your eyelid that is making blinking difficult, learn the ins and outs of styes, how to prevent them and how to care for them if you unfortunately have one.

WHO gets styes?  Styes are common infections for every age.  There is a slight increase of stye incidences in people ages 30-50 years old.  It’s easy to confuse a stye with pink eye, as the redness and itchiness symptoms are similar.  It’s important to note that while pink eye is contagious, styes are not contagious.

WHAT are symptoms of a stye? 

  • Eyelid swelling
  • Tenderness & redness
  • Eyelid droopiness
  • Tearing & discharge
  • Discomfort when blinking
  • Itchiness & blurred vision

WHEN do you get styes?  Styes form when there is a clogged oil gland in the eyelid.  Hair follicles from where your eyelashes emerge can become congested with surrounding dead skin cells and other debris.  Bacteria can get trapped inside these clogged glands and cause an infection, like a stye.

WHERE do styes form?  Styes appear as red lumps directly on your eyelid.  They are found right along your eyelash line and can be very painful.  Most styes are external and start on an eyelash follicle.  Some styes are internal and often times more painful than external styes. 

HOW do I get rid of a stye?  As hard as it can be to live with a stye, most styes will resolve on their own within a week or two.  You can help speed along the process by applying a warm compress for 15 minutes at a time several times a day.  This will not only alleviate some of the pain, but also encourage the stye to drain.  As tempting as it may be, do not attempt to squeeze the red bump as you would a pimple.  This could lead to more styes and be very painful.  Allow the infection to work its way out on its own with warm compresses and over time.  If you are still in pain after a week, contact your eye specialist.

WHY do I keep getting styes?  Poor hygiene habits (such as not properly removing eye makeup or touching your eyes with unclean hands), old eye makeup tools and certain medical and skin conditions can increase your risk for getting styes. 

Manning, Rommel & Thode Associates – Lancaster PA Eye Specialists

While most styes heal on their own within a week or so, there are some that require medical expertise from eye specialists.  If your stye does not improve after a week, causes vision problems, bleeds heavily or keeps coming back, be sure to contact your trusted eye doctor.  Topical antibiotic creams or drops may be recommended based on the type of stye you have.  Do yourself (and your eyes) a favor and avoid rubbing your eyes with dirty hands, remove all of your eye makeup at night and replace eye makeup products within 3-6 months. 

From routine eye care to cataract surgery and laser vision correction, our services and skilled physicians are next to none.  Trust your eye care and vision needs to professionals right here in Lancaster PA. Please contact us today at (717) 393-7980, Option 1, for all of your eye care needs.  We look forward to helping you set up an appointment and