What is a stye?
Do you know those pimple-like bumps that form at the outside edge of your eyelid? That red bump is a stye and it appears when the tiny oil glands around your eyelashes are blocked with dead skin, oil buildup or dirt and the bacteria grow inside.
Symptoms of a stye include: pain, swelling, soreness, itchiness, increased tear production and a crust that forms around your eyelid.
It can also be a chalazion if the bump is not painful but the treatment is the same, it only lasts longer. If you want to seep up the healing time for styes, here’s what you have to do:
- Use a warm compress
A warm compress can help you bring the pus to the surface, helping it dissolve and drain naturally. So wet a clean cloth in warm water, make sure it’s not dripping and place it gently over your eye for about 10 minutes, without squeezing or trying to puncture that stye. If you repeat the procedure 3, 4 times a day, you might remove that crust around your eyelid and help heal faster.
- Clean your eyelid with mild soap and water
Use a baby shampoo and mix it with water to wipe off your eyelids. You can do this every day with a clean cloth or a cotton swab to prevent future styes to develop. Saline solution is also a good remedy that can promote drainage and fight off bacteria, breaking down their membranes.
- Use a warm tea bag
A warm tea bag, especially if it’s black tea can reduce swelling and clean that area. Black tea is known to have antibacterial properties so boil that water, drop the tea bag in your mug, let it steep and cool down and place it over your eye for about 5-10 minutes. Don’t use the same tea bag for each eye.
- Take over-the-counter painkillers
If you can cope with the pain, you can always take painkillers like Tylenol and Ibuprofen to manage it, especially if it interferes with your daily activities.
- Avoid using makeup and wearing contact lenses
It is very important to keep that area clean if you have a stye so avoid using makeup because it can irritate your eye and delay your healing. Makeup tools are also full of germs and they can even spread the infection from one eye to the other. Make sure that you wash them regularly and that you throw away any eye product that has more than three months old. Unfortunately, contact lenses can also spread the infection so it will be better to stick with glasses while your stye heals.
- Use antibiotic ointments
There are all sorts of over-the counter antibiotic ointments that can treat the infection. To use them, you’ll need to pull the lid of your infected eye and apply inside the eyelid about a quarter-inch of ointment. Make sure that all the products you use are proper for the eye and avoid topical steroids since they can come with several side effects.
- Massage the area to promote drainage
While wiping the eyelid you can try to massage the area as well to promote drainage. Make sure your hands are clean and avoid touching the eye while cleaning. If massage hurts, stop doing it.
- Get medical treatment from your doctor
It is possible that your stye might need professional drainage so if your eye is very inflamed and this affects your vision, talk to a doctor and ask for something to reduce swelling.
Can you pop a stye?
Under any circumstance, do not pop or squeeze your stye. Even if you see it release pus and feel tempted to do it, remember that you can help spread the infection. The only way to drain a stye is at your doctor’s office.
Are styes contagious?
Similar to a pimple, a stye is just a local inflammation and irritation and it cannot be spread through normal contact but it can cause other skin breakouts because of the big amount of bacteria in pus.
To prevent styes to develop:
- Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water every time you are touching your eyes.
- Always remove make-up before sleep and always avoid using someone else towel, especially if they have a stye.
- Clean your eyelids with warm water and baby shampoo or mild soap.
How long does a stye last?
It can last up to three days for the stye to break up and drain but the healing process can take about 10 days. They are not a serious issue but they can be irritating. However, if it becomes more painful or if it gets bigger while taking care of it with home treatment, or if it’s internal and it affect your vision, you should contact your doctor. If the stye reappears you might have an underlying condition like cellulitis or conjunctivitis.