While having a stye on your eye is usually unsightly and may bother you in regard to how you look, most styes are harmless and will usually heal on their own. A stye is characterised by a painful red lump on your eyelid, near the base of your eyelashes. You will usually know a stye on your eye is developing due to pain, redness and swelling around the area. However, it is important to remember that a stye doesn’t usually affect your vision.
So, what causes a stye and what steps can you take to help get rid of it?
Why do styes appear?
A stye is essentially an infection of a gland in the eyelid, which causes a red bump. The infection is caused by bacteria, and can either occur at the base of your eyelashes, or deeper within an oil gland in the eyelid.
A stye usually only affects one eye, but it is possible to have more than one at a time. If there is no lump but your eye or eyelid is swollen and red, it is more likely that you have conjunctivitis or blepharitis.
How to treat a stye
While a stye on your eye will usually heal itself in time, there are a number of things you can do to help it disappear quicker. It is important to remember that styes can be contagious, so avoid sharing things like pillowcases or towels with others.
It is crucial that you never attempt to squeeze or pop a stye; this can make it much worse and the infection may spread. Instead, follow these useful tips to help the stye to heal on its own.
Keep your eyelids as clean as possible
If you develop a stye, cleanse your eyelids carefully. This can be done by using diluted baby shampoo or a mild face cleanser. Use it on a clean flannel, and then rinse your eyelids with warm water. Be sure to just gently pat them dry, and not to rub them too hard.
Ensure your hands are clean before and after touching the stye. You might also want to avoid wearing eye makeup, and discard any applicators that could be contaminated like eye makeup brushes.
If you usually wear corrective eyewear, consider wearing glasses instead of contact lenses until your stye has healed.
Apply warm, damp compresses
You may be able to help a stye on your eye to heal faster by applying warm compresses. Do this by soaking a clean flannel in warm water, and wring it out so it’s not dripping wet. Place it over your closed eyelid for 10-15 minutes, and repeat 3 or 4 times a day.
This can help to bring the stye to a head, where it will eventually open and drain on its own.
If you are worried about the stye on your eye, or seeking additional advice, see your optician or GP. This should also be the case if your stye gets worse, doesn’t heal within a week or begins to affect your vision.