What Is a Stye Inside the Eyelid?

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A stye is a small red bump that may be painful and is found on the base of your eyelashes or under your eyelid. It is also called a hordeolum and sometimes spelled as sty.

There are external styes and internal styes. External styes are often caused by an infection in your eyelash hair follicle. Internal styes are inside your eyelid. They are usually caused by an infection of the oil glands.

Here is more information about the symptoms, causes, treatment, and prevention of styes.

Stye inside eyelid

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Symptoms

In addition to a painful bump, a stye can have several symptoms, including:

  • Crusting on the eyelid
  • Discharge from the eye
  • Eyelid swelling
  • Eye tearing
  • Feeling as if something is in your eye
  • Having a sore or scratchy eye
  • Sensitivity to light

Causes and Risk Factors

The most common cause of an internal stye is a bacterial infection. The infection takes place in an oil gland on the edge of the eyelids called the Meibomian gland. These glands provide lubrication to the eye surface. The most common bacteria that causes the infection is Staphylococcus aureus.

There are risk factors that could make you more prone to getting a stye. These include:

  • Having a condition called blepharitis—inflammation of the eyelids.
  • Having had a stye previously
  • Having dry skin
  • Having other conditions including diabetes, rosacea, or seborrheic dermatitis
  • High levels of LDL cholesterol, also called "bad" cholesterol
  • Hormonal changes
  • Poor eyelid hygiene
  • Using older eye makeup
  • Wearing contact lenses
  • Wearing eye makeup overnight

When to See an Eye Doctor for a Stye

Although many styes go away on their own, the symptoms of a stye are similar to many other eye conditions. That is why you should see an eye doctor if you have any concerns about your stye and want to learn how to manage it.

You should see an eye doctor for a stye if the following occur:

  • Your eyelid is red, hot, or swelling.
  • Your eyelid is painful.
  • You feel like something is in your eye.
  • The stye is not getting better after two days of trying home remedies.
  • You notice a change in your vision.

Diagnosis

Eye doctors usually diagnose a stye with a visual exam of the eyelid. Special tests are not usually necessary.

Complications

One complication that can occur with an untreated internal stye is a chalazion. A chalazion is a swollen bump that is located on the eyelid. Initially, it may not hurt, but it can become red, swollen, and tender. If the chalazion becomes too big, it can press on the eye and cause you to have blurry vision.

Another possible complication is having recurring styes. If you have styes that continue to recur, your doctor may want to perform a biopsy to further analyze the cause. For instance, a rare type of ocular cancer called sebaceous carcinoma can cause growths that resemble styes.

Treatment

There are several treatments for a stye, ranging from home remedies to medical and surgical treatments. While doing stye treatments, do not wear eye makeup or use contact lenses. Do not squeeze or pop the stye.

Self Care

Home remedies and self care include:

  • A warm compress: Place a clean, moist, hot washcloth over your eyelids for 10 to 15 minutes, three to five times a day. Reheat the washcloth as needed if it loses its heat.
  • Massage the area around the stye: This can help loosen clogged oil glands. Again, remember not to touch or squeeze the stye itself.
  • Wipe away drainage: If you have any drainage from the eye, use a baby shampoo or eyelid wipes to remove it.
  • Over-the-counter pain relievers: These can come in handy to reduce pain and inflammation associated with the stye.

Medical Treatment

Medical treatments may include:

  • Antibiotics: A doctor may prescribe antibiotics if you have a stye that is infected.
  • Steroid injection into the stye: This may be used to lessen swelling.
  • Drainage of the stye: An eye doctor would do this if the stye does not go away and if it affects your vision. It is usually done in a doctor's office using anesthesia in the specific area of surgery.

Prevention

You can do a few things to help prevent styes:

  • Wash your hands frequently, especially before touching the eye area. This includes before and after removing contact lenses.
  • Wash your face and the area around your eyes.
  • Clean your contacts as recommended after every use.
  • Follow any manufacturer or eye doctor recommendations on how often to dispose of your contact lenses.
  • Get rid of old or expired makeup.
  • Don't share your makeup with others or use someone else's makeup.

Coping

A stye can be annoying and may make you feel self-conscious. However, they are common and often will go away over time. If not, see an eye doctor for help. You can make efforts going forward to help prevent further styes from developing.

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