Stye In Eye? What Is A Stye Anyway?

Infectious Diseases

Stye In Eye? What Is A Stye Anyway?

 

Unfortunately, its viral season again. All around me are kids and parents with viral illnesses – stomach flu, influenza, runny noses and weepy eyes. Conjunctivitis (pink eye) is going around like crazy and reeking havoc on poor eyes everywhere.

Viral Pink Eye

Symptoms of pink eye include redness, swelling and discharge from the infected eye. Sensitivity to light is common and kids can be downright miserable. Usually these infections are caused by viruses and don’t need antibiotic drops (contrary to popular belief). Warm compresses (I like using a cooled chamomile tea bag) are all that is needed. Your doctor can tell you if it looks viral or bacterial.

During or after a bout of conjunctivitis, many people will develop a painful stye in the eye.

What is a stye?

Styes are often a result of these viral or bacterial infections. A stye, or horseolum is a small, painful lump on the inside or outside of the eyelid. Styes are small abscesses filled with pus.

What causes styes?

If bacterial, they may be caused by bacteria called staphylococcus aureus, which leads to many skin infections. Some styes are caused by viruses.

What does a stye look like?

Styes usually appear near the eyelash border. They turn into a red, painful swelling. It may burst before it heals. They last a few days to a week. Occasionally, a small abscess remains that may need drainage. The eyeball is not affected and vision is maintained.

 

Who gets styes?

Styes are very prevalent. People that get styes often have recurrences later in life. They commonly appear during or after a viral illness such as a cold or flu.

 

When to see your doctor

Styes usually disappear on their own in a few days. Antibiotics are not typically required. However, see your doctor if:

  • The swelling persists for a week or more – this may not be a stye, but instead a chalazion, a painless, smooth and round bump that is situated in the mid portion of the eyelid. These are not infections.
  • If vision is impaired
  • If there is eye pain
  • If there is persistent or recurrent styes – this may signal a chronic skin problem such as rosacea

 

Preventing styes and treatment for stye

Practicing good eyelid hygiene can prevent most styes. Using a mild baby shampoo can work wonders to clean the bacteria off the delicate skin. Simply mix some shampoo with warm water and clean the area with a cotton ball or swab each day. Warm compresses used at the start of discomfort may help speed healing.

 

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Dina M. Kulik, MD, FRCPC, PEM

About Dina M. Kulik, MD, FRCPC, PEM

Dina is a wife, mother of 4, and adrenaline junky. She loves to share children’s health information from her professional and personal experience. More About Dr Dina.

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