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Stye in Your Eye

By on March 10, 2013

A stye is a tender, inflamed red bump on the edge of the eyelid or, at times, underneath the eyelid. 

In addition to its distinct pink-red color, a stye may be accompanied by pain, watering of the eye and sensitivity to bright light. It may make your eye feel scratchy or irritated when you blink. Another telltale sign is a tiny yellowish dot at the center, evidence of inflammatory cells that have traveled to the area.

sleepyOn rare occasions, a stye develops in one of the deeper glands of the eyelid. These “internal” styes cause pain, redness and swelling deeper in the eyelid and are usually more severe than external styes.

Blame it on a bacterium. What people typically don’t know about styes is how they get started. A stye (the medical term is hordeolum) is an infection of the tiny oil glands at the edge of, or underneath, the eyelid glands that help to lubricate the eyeball. In most cases, the culprit is the bacterium staphylococcus, which is found on the skin and can be transferred to the eyes through unwashed hands. These germs can also become trapped inside an eyelash follicle, triggering a stye. Another way a stye can develop is through a recurring condition known as blepharitis, an inflammation of the edges of the eyelid.

What to do. Despite their angry appearance, most styes are usually harmless and require no medical intervention. They will drain on their own and disappear within a few days to a few weeks.

You may be tempted to speed the process by squeezing or popping a stye — but don’t, since this can aggravate the inflammation. Instead, if you wish, you can apply warm compresses to the affected area four times a day, 10 to 20 minutes each time. The warmth will help the stye reach a head, rupture and drain.


Article courtesy of Johns Hopkins Medicine.


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