All about Sties: What You Need to Know

June 13, 2017

Most of us are familiar with the red, tender bump on the eye which can be quite irritating. Often, this red bump comes with other annoying or uncomfortable symptoms, and can greatly impact our quality of life. There are a few factors that can contribute to common eye infections such as the sty. Nearly all of us are hosts to certain bacteria that can exist on our skin and hair follicles. For example, it is believed that more than half of adults middle-aged and older are hosts to the parasites known as Demodex hominis, which can live on hair follicles, eyelashes, and other surfaces of our skin. Sometimes, these bacteria can lead to infections such as Blepharitis, which is a very common inflammation of the eyelid caused either by this type of bacterial infection, or a skin condition such as Seborrheic dermatitis. After Blepharitis, it’s possible for a patient to develop a Sty, or a different infection known as a Chalazoin, which also presents as hard red bumps on the surface of the eyelid or lashes. Another bacterium that is common among most people is known as Staphylococcus aureus , which is most commonly found in the nose. When these bacteria are transferred to the eye – usually by rubbing the eyes after touching the nose – it infects the oil glands at the base of the eyelashes, causing a sty. Although most sties eventually drain and heal on their own, careful treatment is the best way to avoid a more serious infection.

Common Symptoms of a sty include, but are not limited to:

  • A pimple-like bump at the base of the eyelash
  • Swelling of the eyelid
  • Watery eyes
  • Tenderness to touch

Although most common symptoms should go away on their own, get immediate medical attention if you notice any of the following symptoms:

  • Severe swelling of the eyes, resulting in the eye being swollen shut
  • Redness in the entire eye, rather than just at the infection site
  • Any change or disturbance in vision
  • Swelling lasts for more than three weeks
  • The sty begins to bleed, or returns after it appears to have healed
  • Eyelashes begin to fall out
  • Fever or any swelling in the lymph nodes in the neck or front of the ear
  • The sty is on the bottom eyelid, near the nose
  • Excessive and persistent watery eyes

Treatment Options

Most sties go away on their own within 5-7 days without the need for medical attention. During this time, here are some basic remedies you can employ at home to help hasten the healing process and avoid a recurrence of the infection.

  • Apply a warm compress many times a day, at least 4-6 times, for about 15 minutes at a time. Keep eyes closed during this treatment. This will help by slowly absorbing and draining the obstructed contents of the sty.
  • Keeping the eye closed, very gently scrub the eyelid with lukewarm water and a mild, nonirritating soap or shampoo, or commercial eyelid cleaning solution. This will help to keep the area clean, as well as encourage drainage.
  • Upon waking up, apply a warm washcloth to the eyelids for 2-5 minutes. This will help to liquefy the contents of the oil glands, thereby preventing a blockage and recurrence of the sty.

Best Practices at Home

  • Avoid squeezing or puncturing the sty, as this can lead to a more serious infection.
  • Discontinue wearing contact lenses or any other product on the eyes during this time, as this can lead to further irritation and infection.
  • Practice good hygiene including regular hand washing and avoiding touching the eyes. This will help prevent the sty from recurring. This is especially important for children, as they are likely to touch their eyes often.
  • Perform eyelid hygiene and cleaning for 1-2 times a day in order to get rid of the debris and bacteria or mites that live on the eyelid.

The Eye Center at Bumrungrad

The Eye Center at Bumrungrad International Hospital is the region’s foremost destination for diagnosis and care of all eye disorders, especially the most complex and delicate conditions that need extra care. The team of highly specialized eye experts and medical professionals at the Eye Center coordinate effectively with all relevant medical professionals, including those in neurology or other centers, to provide comprehensive, world-class eye care to each patient.

Experience the Eyelid Spa at our state-of-the-art facilities to ensure that the oil glands near your eyes get the appropriate care to help prevent common eye infections. The procedure is an eyelid massage and cleaning service performed by medical professionals, after diagnosis and treatment by an eye doctor. This procedure helps to reduce inflammation of the eyes, as well as removing eyelash mites and other debris.

to further discuss the health of your eyes, or request an appointment with Dr. Nattawut here.

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