What Causes a Stye and How to Prevent and Treat One

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Do you have a small red bump inside or outside your eyelid? Does it look like a pimple and is sore? Is it painful and makes you uncomfortable? It’s probably a stye. Is it something serious? Is it something you should worry about?

Styes can be very uncomfortable as much as it can be irritating, and anyone can get it, even if you pay close attention and take proper care of your eyes. 

What causes a stye? How can you stop it? I have covered in this article the meaning, symptoms, causes, risk factors, and how to prevent a stye.

Let’s get down to it.

What is a stye?

A stye is a red, painful bump that forms around the edge of your eyelid. This bump is filled with pus and is similar to a boil or pimple. It can affect both eyelids at the same time, although usually, only one eye gets affected at a time. It is also known as a hordeolum.

Fortunately, styes are generally not a cause for serious concern. In most cases, it gets better on its own within a few days. The problem, however, is the discomfort and pain that comes with it. This pain can be mild or severe and can get in the way of your day to day activities. 

Signs and symptoms 

Sometimes, people confuse styes for pimples. The following are some of the symptoms associated with styes.

  • A bump forming near the eyelid 
  • Inflammation of the eyelid 
  • Pain
  • Itching of the eye
  • Redness of the eye
  • Blurry vision
  • Yellowish discharge from the eye
  • Discomfort when blinking 
  • Light sensitivity
  • Tenderness

What causes a stye? 

According to findings, stye occurs when there is an infection of the oil glands in your eyelid. The staphylococcus bacterium often causes this infection.

A stye may look like your regular pimple, but it shouldn’t be treated as one. You should always resist the urge to pop the bump and let the pus out as this will only make it worse.

Risk Factors

To prevent styes and what causes a stye, there are certain factors that you need to avoid, which may increase the risk of getting the infection. These factors include:

  • Touching your eyes with dirty hands. 
  • Inserting a contact lens without thoroughly disinfecting it. 
  • Leaving your eye makeup on all through the night. 
  • Using expired cosmetics. 

Other health conditions that increase your risk of styes are:

  • Blepharitis: This is a disease that leads to the inflammation of the eyelids. If you have Blepharitis, it may cause the stye to reoccur several times even after treatment. 
  • Rosacea: Rosacea is a chronic health condition characterised by redness of the face. Patients with Rosacea may experience swollen eyelids.

Stye Diagnosis

Your doctor will examine your eyelids to check the location of the stye. Signs of scar tissues, foreign bodies, and chalazion are things to look out for. A chalazion occurs when an oil gland near the eyelashes gets blocked. Your doctor may also check for any infection of glands that has spread to the eye or skin surrounding the infected area. 

How to prevent a stye

Some of the ways to prevent styes include:

  • Washing your hands regularly: This is one of the important solutions to what causes a stye. It is challenging to keep your hands away from your face, which is why you need to make sure your hands are always clean. Dirty hands serve as a refuge for stye-causing bacteria.
  • Paying attention to your cosmetics: Always check for the expiry date when you purchase any cosmetic product from the market and dump the ones you have when they get expired. Expired makeups are an excellent habitat for bacteria.
  • Don’t sleep overnight with makeup on your face: Wash off all makeup before bedtime, or you might just end up having your oil glands getting clogged.
  • Properly disinfect your contact lenses: There is no easier way to get stye than to use an infected contact lens. You need to ensure that your contact lenses are clean before putting them on. Also, make sure your hands are clean when handling the lenses as you can transfer some dirt to your eyes through unwashed hands. 

How to treat a stye

A washcloth and warm water are all you need to effect treatment. The procedure for treating styes is as follows:

  1. Wash your face: Your eyes should be clean. Remove all makeup from your face if you’re wearing one. Also, make sure your hands are clean; you don’t want to end up causing more problems for your eyes. 
  2. Dip the washcloth into warm water. The water should be warm, not cold but not too hot.
  3. Squeeze out excess water from the washcloth, then gently massage the affected eyelid. Do this for five to ten minutes, 3 to 4 times a day. 

You should suspend the use of makeup when you have a stye infection. Also, avoid wearing contact lenses even if you consider them infection-free.

Usually, you should notice a significant improvement within 48 hours if your stye is well treated. However, there are cases which will require you to see a doctor. You should visit your doctor if:

  • The inflammation takes over your whole eyelid. 
  • The stye grows worse over time, even when treated.
  • It affects your vision.
  • The pain becomes intolerable. 

Final words

Styes can be discomforting and annoying. It not only causes pain (some stye patients turn to painkillers for relief) but also disrupts your daily activities. It can cause unnecessary attention from others and can force you to remain indoors.

But this should not be a source of worry as it can always be taken care of. It might be painful, but it disappears on its own, even when left untreated. Also, what causes a stye can easily be taken care of.

Please note that If you have a bump that is not very painful, then it is not a stye. It’s more likely to be a chalazion. 

There is no difference in the treatment of chalazion and styes. The only thing you need to do is to apply compresses with a washcloth every day. One thing to keep in mind, however, is that a chalazion takes longer to heal than a stye.

Read the next helpful post: What is Alzheimer’s Disease and How Can it Be Treated?

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