A stye develops when an eyelid gland at the base of an eyelash becomes infected. Resembling a pimple on the eyelid, a stye can grow on the inside or outside of the lid and can occur at any age. While styes are not harmful to vision if they persist you should schedule a comprehensive eye exam for additional consultation with your eye doctor.
A stye initially brings pain, redness, tenderness and swelling in the area, and then a small pimple appears. Sometimes just the immediate area is swollen; other times, the entire eyelid swells. You may notice frequent watering in the affected eye, a feeling like something is in the eye or increased light sensitivity.
Styes are caused by staphylococcal bacteria. This bacterium is often found in the nose, and it's easily transferred to the eye by rubbing first your nose, then your eye.
Most styes heal within a few days on their own. You can encourage this process by applying hot compresses for 10 to 15 minutes, three or four times a day, over the course of several days. This will relieve the pain and bring the stye to a head, much like a pimple. The stye ruptures and drains, then heals.
Never pop a stye like a pimple; allow it to rupture on its own. If you have frequent styes, your eye doctor may prescribe an antibiotic ointment to prevent a recurrence.
Styes formed inside the eyelid either disappear completely or (rarely) rupture on their own. This type of stye can be more serious, and may need to be opened and drained by your eyecare practitioner.
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