Definition: What is a Stye?
A stye is a temporary, benign bacterial infection of the root of an eyelash. Unlike the chalazion, it is never in the middle of the eyelid, but always on the edge. It is most often caused by staphylococcus, and is not contagious.
A stye is the most common eyelid infection. It is believed that on average an individual will contract it once or twice in their life.
Even if the stye has no serious consequences, it can be disabling and very painful.
Symptoms: How to Recognize a Stye?
A stye is characterized by several signs. A small red button - or nodule - forms at the edge of the eyelid. It is accompanied by pain near the root of the eyelashes, a tendency to cry, swelling of the eyelid, and a slight visual disturbance.
Purulent secretions can also be found in the eye, as well as the sensation of a foreign body inside the eye.
Causes of the Stye
A stye results from obstruction of the follicle (the root) of an eyelash, or glands that surround the eyelid following a staph infection. These will then swell up to form a boil. In some cases, the stye is not visible and is located under the skin.
There are two types of styes. The external stye is the one that's found most often. It is benign and without consequences. In contrast, the internal stye is a rare form that's more serious and requires medical intervention. It develops at the level of the Meibomian gland in the central part of the eyelid.
In people with diabetes, acne, or weakened immune systems, styes tend to be chronic. That's why screening for diabetes is often recommended if one suffers from frequent infections.
Treatment: How to Cure a Stye?
Most of the time, a stye does not require treatment and can be cured within a few days. It is advised to apply a wet compress on the eye several times a day. It is important to never touch the stye with your hands, and to not scratch your eye. What's more, the sufferer should avoid cosmetics and contact lenses.
If the stye is persistent, an antibiotic treatment based on eye drops and ointments can be prescribed. Surgical treatment may be considered if antibiotics are not effective.