Did you wake up this morning with an uncomfortable soreness and a bump on your eyelid?
Does the bump have a little pus spot in the center? Is it sore or painful? Does your eye feel itchy? Do you have a feeling like there might be something in your eye? Is your eyelid crusty? Does your eye feel sensitive to bright light? Do you seem to be tearing up more than normal?
If you answered yes to any of the questions above, you might have a stye, as those are common symptoms of one.
What is a Stye?
A stye is a common eye condition which can cause pain and discomfort. It appears as a red, swollen lump on the outside or inside of the eyelid. Although styes can be unsightly and irritating, they are usually not serious and often heal without treatment in a few days.
See, you have a bunch of little oil glands in your eyelids. Styes develop when those glands are clogged by oil buildup, dirt, dead skin, or other debris. Bacteria starts to grow inside the blocked gland, becoming a painful bump in an annoying location.
If the stye doesn’t hurt, it might actually be a chalazion, which is a similar phenomenon that develops from a healed internal stye that is no longer infectious – it’s treated in about the same way as a stye, but takes a bit longer to heal.
Styes are caused by an infection by staphylococcal bacteria, typically from poor hygiene such as rubbing your eyes with unwashed hands or sleeping with makeup on. Other causes include improper use of contact lenses, allergies, hormone fluctuations, dietary deficiencies and stress.
Symptoms include swelling of the eyelids, sensitivity to light and discharge from the affected area. In some cases irritation around the eye may also occur.
Note: Definitely do not pop a stye. I know it might be tempting (especially because styes often look like pimples), but it’ll release pus and give the infection an opportunity to spread – which is bad news.
2 Simple Steps on How to Get Rid of a Stye
Styes form when staphylococcal bacteria build up in a clogged oil gland around the base of one of your eyelashes or within your eyelids, and the swollen gland becomes visibly irritated.
Unfortunately, there’s really no instant remedy for styes.
They’re fairly common and aren’t really anything to be worried about – they’ll sometimes go away in about a week if you leave them alone. However, if you want to try and do something to speed along the healing process, here are a few tips. We are going to heat, cleanse, and coat.
1. Heat Up the Eyelid
Do NOT use a wet washcloth, as it does not retain heat for a long enough time to be effective – don’t squeeze the stye or press too hard, just let the heat rest there or massage the area gently.
It is best to use a warm compress eye mask, such as the Heyedrate Warm Compress.
The warm compress works by drawing the pus and oil up to the surface of your skin to come to a head and dissolve, which allows the stye to drain naturally. It also heats up the oil inside the glands, which liquifies it, opening up the glands even more.
You can do this 3 to 4 times a day while you have a stye. Do it once daily to prevent styes if you have a recurrent stye problem.
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2. Cleanse Your Face and Eyelids with an Eyelid Wipe
The pus inside a stye contains staphylococcal bacteria that could potentially cause other skin breakouts nearby or on others – we all have this bacteria on our skin, but you want to avoid getting it in your own or others’ eyes to prevent infection anyway.
Use pre-moistened eyelid wipes for eyelid cleansing. We recommend the MediViz Tea Tree Oil Eyelid Wipes. Again, use up to four times per day while you have an active stye and use one to two times daily for prevention.
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If you'd rather not use wipes, Heyedrate Lid and Lash Cleanser is a great option. This product is hypochlorous acid, a substance made naturally by the body. It's incredibly gentle on the eyelids and very effective. Simply spray it onto a cotton ball or round and wipe it over your closed eyelids, concentrating at the base of the eyelashes.
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Other Tips for Styes
Keep Irritants Away from Your Eyes
Avoid using makeup and wearing contact lenses (use your glasses instead) when you have a stye, because these can delay healing. You want to keep any other possible irritants away from the stye as it heals, too. Plus, you could contaminate your contacts, makeup, and makeup brushes with the stye’s bacteria and potentially spread the infection to your other eye.
In fact, be sure to thoroughly clean your contacts and makeup brushes before using them again (better yet, pull out a new pair of contacts to use or buy a new brush – we never switch out our makeup brushes often enough anyway).
Basically, keep your eyes and hands clean, and don’t get anything near your eye that could aggravate the stye and spread bacteria – it’s best to leave it alone unless you’re actively applying some treatment to it.
Massage Around Your Eye
You can use lid wipes or a warm compress to massage the area near the stye to encourage it to drain. You can just use your hands too, but make sure they’re clean.
When the stye drains, keep the area clean and don’t touch your eyes. If it hurts to massage around your stye, stop and try a different treatment tactic.
AGAIN, DO NOT TRY TO POP IT!
Go See a Doctor
In most cases, you won’t have to go to the doctor for a stye. With that being said, seeing a doctor is the best way to get an accurate diagnosis and learn how to treat it. A stye is caused by an infection in the eyelid glands or at the base of an eyelash follicle. It is important to visit a doctor for a stye rather than trying to diagnose and treat it yourself as complications can arise from improperly treating it.
A doctor will be able to provide you with the best course of treatment for your specific case based on their expertise and experience. Treatment options can range from warm compresses several times a day, topical antibiotics, or even oral antibiotics if needed. It’s important to remember that any antibiotic usage should be monitored closely as improper use can cause additional health issues in the future.
How to Prevent Styes
Stye prevention mostly comes down to eyelid hygiene – don’t touch your face or anywhere in or around your eyes without first washing your hands with soap and water. Be sure to fully remove your makeup with an eyelid wipe, and wash your face every night before you go to sleep. Avoid sharing a towel with another person who has a stye.
Getting a stye makes you more likely to get another one later on. You should go a step further and regularly clean your eyelids with eyelid wipes if styes are common for you. Also applying a warm compress daily will help prevent styes.
If you practice excellent eyelid hygiene and keep getting an abnormally large number of styes anyway, you might want to go see a doctor. The styes could end up being a symptom of an underlying condition – in these cases, you’d have to treat the underlying cause instead of the symptom, or the styes will just keep coming back.
Drs. Travis and Jenna Zigler, President and VP of Eye Believe Foundation
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