What you need to know:
- Avoid sharing towels and face cloths with others to prevent passing on an eye sty or other infections.
If the eye sty keeps recurring, work on preventive measures such as throwing away old makeup and contact lenses and cleaning your equipment regularly.
If the sty does not heal or gets worse, seek medical advice from an ophthalmologist.
Eye styes are not a severe medical condition, but they can be painful and annoying. They show up as bumps that look like pimples or swollen eyelids.
Eye styes often clear up on their own within a few days without any treatment.
Eye styes are small red bumps that usually appear on the edge of the eye or inside the eyelid. They can range from tiny to about a quarter-inch across and may be filled with fluid. A sty can look like an ordinary pimple, but unlike acne that affects people all over their face and body, only one individual spot will appear at any given time. In rare cases, you may have styes in both eyes.
Types of eye sties
External – This is the most common type of sty, and it affects the outside or visible part of your eyelid.
Internal – This type of sty affects the inside of your eyelid, near the eyelashes. It is caused by the staph bacteria that gets into one of the inner oil glands of the eyelid.
Difference between Sty and chalazion
A chalazion is a lump that forms on the eyelid due to inflammation of an oil gland. Unlike a sty, a chalazion is not painful. Compared to styes, they also form bigger lumps.
When an internal sty does not heal, it can turn to a chalazion.
Symptoms and signs of a sty
- Painful, red bumps on the eyelid that look like pimples or swollen eyelids
- Swelling around the bump
- Difficulty opening your eye because of the swelling
- Soreness and itchy sensation
- Teary eyes
- Discomfort in the eye
- Crust around the eyelid
Treating the eye sty
Styes do not cause permanent damage to your eye. However, you need to watch for signs of infection (such as pus) because if the sty becomes infected, it can become a severe condition.
Some remedies can help speed up the healing process.
Apply a warm compress
Applying a warm compress to the eye can ease the discomfort and speed up the healing process. You can do this by taking a damp cloth and dipping it in warm water then place it over your eyelid for about five minutes. Do this three or four times a day until the sty goes away. This procedure helps unclog the pores and promote drainage.
After the compress, you can gently massage your eyes to help drain the pus. Use clean hands to massage.
Use an antibiotic ointment
Your doctor may prescribe antibiotics if you have a sty that is not healing on its own. Use the warm compress to relieve pain and promote drainage but be sure to apply the cream as directed by your doctor.
If you experience pain, take over-the-counter painkillers such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen to relieve the discomfort.
Avoid makeup and contact lenses
If you have a sty, avoid wearing any makeup until the bump goes away. This will help to prevent further infection and irritation. You should also avoid wearing contact lenses until the sty clears up.
Clean your eyes with water and mild soap.