Stye: What is it?

 Style: What is it?

Living on everybody’s skin are millions of bacteria. Most of the time they live harmlessly on our bodies, but when they get into the wrong place they cause infection. If certain bacteria get into the glands on the eyelids at the base of the eyelashes, the resulting infection is called a hordeolum, commonly known as a stye.

Styes are usually caused by the bacteria Staphylococcus aureus, also known as Golden Staph. These bacteria are often present in the nasal membranes. They can cause skin infections, food poisoning, blood poisoning, and pneumonia. Skin infections caused by staph, including styes, look like pimples or boils.

Symptoms of a stye include pain, redness, and swelling of the area. There may be a white or yellow lump, called pointing. Styes may point along the edge of the eyelid or inside the eyelid, but not usually on the outside of the eyelid. Swelling may be localized to the style, or it may affect the whole eyelid.

In most cases, styes do not require medical treatment. Left alone they are often self-limiting and go away on their own. Home care treatments include warm to hot compresses three or four times a day. Most important is hygiene, being careful not to rub the eye as this can spread the infection. Squeezing or popping the style is definitely not recommended. This can spread the infection not only to the rest of the eye but also to the skin of the face, with possibly serious consequences.

Styes can be spread from person to person by contact, so hygiene for the whole household is very important. Anything that touches the eye, like facecloths, towels, and bedding, should be washed separately in hot water.

You should seek medical care for a style if it does not begin to improve within a few days of home care treatment, or if it does not heal within a week or two. Other indications you need to see a doctor are if styes recur, you experience excessive pain, the white of the eye becomes red, the entire eye is swollen shut, or if you experience any change or disturbance in your vision, including double vision. Children with styes who have raised temperature, loss of appetite, and complain of a headache, tiredness, or feeling unwell should also be taken to the doctor.

Styes will usually be treated by an ophthalmologist. Medical treatment may include topical antibiotic cream to be applied to the eye. For people who have more than one stye at a time or styes that recur, or get styes along with another condition such as blepharitis or rosacea, the doctor may prescribe oral antibiotics. A large or painful stye may be lanced and drained by the ophthalmologist.