What is Stye?

Stye (Hordeolum) is an infection of the microscopic sebaceous glands of the eyelid. Normally these produce a fatty material that helps to lubricate the inner surface of the lids. If staphylococcal germs penetrate the duct and multiply in the gland, a painful swelling can rapidly develop, commonly called a stye. Stye can take place with the eyelids and tear manufacturing apparatus, as well as with the parts of the face surrounding the eyes. Here are some of the more important ones and those you could encounter in everyday life.

In general any eye injury caused by accident should be seen by a doctor as soon as possible. Chemicals entering the eye should be irrigated with saline or water immediately after exposure. Do not try to neutralize it with anything, for this may aggravate the damage. Lacerations to the eyelids need suturing by the doctor if they are deep, and usually heal readily. If the conjunctiva is lacerated, it will heal within a few days, but antibiotic drops or ointments are advised.

If foreign bodies enter the eye (cornea, sclera or intraocular), bandage the eye to prevent its movement, tape in position, and take the patient to an eye specialist for adequate examination as quickly as possible. Many eye disorders occur as a result of injury. Play safe and get expert medical assistance, as the passage of time can mean the difference between retention and loss of vision. The eyelid may swell and become acutely tender as pus forms and an abscess develops. The greater the swelling the more intense the pain and local discomfort.

Stye Treatment

Alternate hot and cold compresses three to four times a day often bring relief, and will frequently assist the stye to head and burst spontaneously. After this the pus is evacuated, the swelling quickly subsides, the pain and discomfort disappear and the lid returns to normal within a few days.

If the stye has not burst within 48 hours, it is wise to see the doctor. Often the abscess will show signs of pointing, and an incision at this point will rapidly allow pus and debris to leave. An antibiotic eye ointment may be prescribed to be applied in the conjunctival sac every three hours to prevent any spread of the infection. If there are already signs of infection spreading to the rest of the eyelid or face, antibiotics may be prescribed, but this is not usually necessary.

Sometimes the simple routine of applying alternate hot and cold packs may be effective in bringing the stye to a head. Apply a small folded towel in hot water (not too hot), wring out lightly, and gently place over the affected eye. When this cools, follow the same procedure with an icy cold pack. Do not press too hard, for this may cause pain. This is claimed to bring fresh supplies of blood (plus food vitamins, healing elements and oxygen) to the infection, causing it either to head and the pus to escape, or else it may subside. When the pus goes, healing is usually rapid.

If simple measures fail within twelve to twenty-four hours, I think it is necessary to see the doctor. He may prescribe a broad spectrum antibiotic that may kill the germs and eradicate the infection. He may also prescribe an antibiotic eye cream that will attack it from without at the same time. Paracetamol elixir is often suitable to relieve pain and decrease fevers. Plenty of fluids orally are also a good idea with any infection, wherever it happens to be in the system.