Stye Hordeolum

What is a stye?

A stye, also called a hordeolum, is a clogged meibomian gland in the eyelid that becomes infected with bacteria from the skin. If the infection becomes larger, the stye may become red and painful.

An infected stye starts as a red, painful, tender bump that appears at the base of your eyelashes. As it heals, a stye forms a yellow crust on top of an eyelid bump that looks like pus. The stye gradually shrinks and usually disappears within 7-10 days without treatment or stays small with treatment.

Stye infections are more common among individuals who touch their eyes and eyelids.

What causes a stye?

There are several causes of styes, but the most common is a clogged meibomian gland followed by a localized staphylococcal infection. This is caused by bacteria that is often found on the skin. Meibomian glands are found along the edge of the eyelid and secrete oil that helps lubricates your eye. The stye bacterium is usually staphylococcus aureus, which can cause minor skin infections on other parts of the body if it enters through small abrasion in your skin, or around an eyelash.

Styes are typically characterized by rapidly developing tender red bumps with whitish "heads" at their center (the part that becomes crusty). Internal styes are styes that exist deep within an eyelid and external styes are closer to the surface of the eyelid.

Can eye strain or excessive screen time cause a stye?

There is no clear evidence that eye strain or over screen time can cause a stye. However, if you are experiencing eye strain, it is important to take breaks and practice good eye health habits. This includes blinking regularly, resting your eyes.

How do you prevent styes?

To prevent styes, it is important to practice good hygiene habits. This includes washing your hands regularly, avoid touching your eyes, and not sharing personal items such as towels or pillows.

Warm compresses should be applied to the lid as soon as a bump is noticed. The heat allows the oil in the meibomian glands to flow freely and reduce the bump.

What are the treatment options available for stye?

Warm compresses and lid massage twice a day for up to a week or two. If the bump does not go away and gets larger, oral antibiotics may be necessary.

Surgical excision may be needed in some cases. Antibiotic ointments or drops may be prescribed if compromised eyelid tissue is the cause of stye.

Can lack or nutrition and sleep cause stye?

There is no clear evidence that lack of nutrition and sleep can cause styes.

When to see a doctor for a stye?

A doctor should be seen if home remedies such as warm compresses and lid massage are not working after one or two weeks.

If a stye, or any other lid bump becomes larger and involves the entire lid accompanied by redness, pain and swelling, a doctor should be seen as soon as possible.

A visit to the emergency room should be considered if there is redness, pain or swelling that involve the entire upper and lower lids. This is considered an ocular emergency and treatment with antibiotics needs to be started immediately.