A sty is an inflammation on a small gland of the eyelid, which happens due to infection by bacteria, leading to the appearance of a swollen lump, redness, discomfort and itchiness on the eyelid.
Even though they can be very uncomfortable, styes normally disappear on their own, after three to five days, without the need to any specific treatment.
When styes do not disappear after eight days, or get worse overtime, it's important to consult with an ophthalmologist, since it is possible for a sty to evolve to a chalazion, which needs to be treated through a small surgical procedure.
Styes are normally identified when the eyelid gets swollen, but other symptoms can include:
- Discomfort, sensitivity, itchiness or pain on the edge of the eyelid;
- Small swollen lump with a small yellow dot in the center;
- Redness and increased temperature of the eyelid;
- Increased sensitivity to light.
Styes usually disappear on their own after a few days, however, if they persist, it's also possible there's an inflammation of the glands near the root of the lashes, originating in a chalazion, which is a small nodule that needs to be removed through a small surgical procedure.
What causes styes to appear
Styes usually occur due to an infection of a gland located on the eyelid. This is more common in people who have seborrhea, acne, oily skin or chronic blepharitis, because glands tend to get clogged more easily, favoring the development of fungus and bacteria.
How to treat styes
Styes usually do not require any type of special treatment. However, there are a few steps that can help getting rid of them faster:
- Keep the area around the eyes clean, and do not let secretions accumulate;
- Apply warm compresses to the affected eye for 10 to 15 minutes, 3 or 4 times a day;
- Avoid scratching, squeezing or pressing the eyelid;
- Do not wear make-up or contact lenses.
Styes usually heal on their own after about five days, and they do not usually last more than one week. A decrease in swelling, pain, and redness shows improvement.
When to go to the doctor
It is recommended to visit a doctor if one of your eyes is very red or irritated, if you experience eyesight problems, if the sty does not improves after 7 days, or if the inflammation spreads through the face, causing a large red, hot, and painful area.
After the assessment, the doctor may prescribe a lotion or eye drops with antibiotics, and in some cases the use of oral antibiotics. There are also a few serious cases in which a small surgery is needed to drain the pus from the sty.