Stye
Symptoms, Causes, Treatments, Questions & Related Topics


Possible Symptoms for Stye

  • Red, swollen bump on the edge of eyelid[1]
  • Swollen eyelid
  • Tenderness or pain of the eyelid
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Tearing of the eye, or watery eyes
  • Crusting of the eye[2]
  • Gritty or scratchy sensation on the eye
  • Drainage of yellow fluid[3]

Top 5 Stye Causes

1. Poor Facial Hygiene

Failing to wash your face regularly can cause an oil gland in the eyelid to become blocked. This allows bacteria to grow inside the blocked gland and cause a stye. Maintaining good hygiene can often protect you for developing a stye.

2. Old or Contaminated Eye Makeup

Eye makeup that is old or contaminated often contains bacteria that increase the risk for a stye. Using eye makeup past its shelf life may lead to a stye, as can sharing your eye makeup with other people or using someone else’s makeup. Storing eye makeup improperly, such as in high temperatures or sunlight, is also shown to increase the risk for eye infections and eye problems such as styes.[4]

3. Contact Lenses

Contact lenses that are not clean or that have been exposed to water may contain bacteria that can cause a stye. They can also develop if you sleep in contact lenses or don’t replace the contact lens case every 3 months or as directed by your eye doctor.[5]

4. Blepharitis

Styes are a common complication of blepharitis.[6] Blepharitis is an inflammation of the eyelids characterized by symptoms including excessive tearing, itching, and burning. Blepharitis can be caused by rosacea and also from exposing your eyes to bacteria and scalp dandruff.

5. Diabetes

Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease that lowers a person’s resistance to infection. Having type 1 diabetes can make you more susceptible to bacterial infections of any kind, including those that affect the eyes and that can trigger styes. Recurring styes are a common sign of diabetes.[7]

7 Ways to Prevent a Stye

1. Practice Good Hygiene

Wash your hands, face, and eye area regularly and as needed to prevent bacteria from blocking oil glands in the eyelids that lead to styes. Avoid touching your eyes or eyelids with dirty hands at any time, and wash your face in the morning, at night, and after exercising to remove dirt, oil, and bacteria. If you wear eye makeup, remove your makeup and wash your face every night before going to bed.

2. Replace Eye Makeup Frequently

Over time, eye makeup can collect bacteria and contribute to the development of styes when not replaced frequently. Mascara should be replaced every 2 to 4 months due to the way it’s regularly exposed to fungi and bacteria.[8] Eyeshadows and pencil eyeliners that are sharpened last an average of 3 years before they need to be replaced.[9]

3. Properly Store and Handle Eye Makeup

Certain habits and behaviors surrounding the use of eye makeup can increase your risk for developing a stye. Don’t touch eyeshadow powders with your fingers, and don’t pump your mascara wand in and out of the applicator tube, since these behaviors can cause bacteria to multiply. Avoid storing eye makeup in sunlight, moisture, and hot temperatures, since all these conditions make it easier for fungi and bacteria to grow.[8]

4. Care for and Clean Contact Lenses

Cleaning your contact lenses regularly and caring for them properly can reduce your risk for styes if you prefer contact lenses over glasses. Don’t wear contact lenses when sleeping or taking naps, since this prevents your tears from naturally eliminating bacteria from the eyes.[10] Replace the contact lens solution every day and avoid exposing the lenses to water. Lastly, replace the contact lens case once per month, and replace the lenses often as recommended by your doctor.

5. Treat and Manage Eye Infections

Blepharitis and pink eye are infections that may lead to the development of styes. If you’re experiencing any symptoms of the eyes or eyelids, such as itching, excessive tearing, pain, or burning, make an appointment with your eye doctor immediately. Treating these infections early on may help prevent you a stye.

6. Manage Type 1 Diabetes

If you have diabetes, work with your doctor to effectively manage your blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood glucose levels so you can fight off eye infections that may lead to a stye. Take insulin shots as prescribed, eat healthy foods, stay physically active, and manage stress. These are all positive behaviors that can help prevent type 1 diabetes complications like styes.[11]

7. Use Fish Oil Supplements

Omega-3 fish oil supplements may help prevent oil glands in the eyelids from becoming blocked.[1] Ask your doctor about the amount of fish oil you need based on your medical history. Adults should use a minimum of 650 mg of fish oil per day with at least 220 mg from EPA and 220 mg from DHA.[12]

Possible Stye Treatment Options:

  • Warm, wet compress[1]
  • Antibiotic ointment, or antibiotics
  • Draining the stye
  • Switching to eyeglasses from contact lenses
  • Not wearing eye makeup
  • Prescription eye drops[13]
  • Washing hands frequently[3]
  • Washing the face and eyes daily
  • Gentle massage of the nodule[14]

Questions Your Doctor May Ask About Stye Treatment:

  • Do you experience symptoms other than those for a stye?
  • How often do you wash your face?
  • What methods or cleansers do you use to wash your face?
  • Do you wear eye makeup to bed?
  • How often do you replace your eye makeup?
  • Do you share your eye makeup with others?
  • Do you wear contact lenses?
  • How often do you replace your contact lenses, the case, and solution?
  • Have you recently had an eye infection?
  • Do you have diabetes?
  • Have you previously had a stye?

Stye May Also Be Known as:

  • Hordeolum

References

  1. Medline Plus. Eyelid bump. https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/001009.htm
  2. University of Rochester Medical Center. Stye. https://www.urmc.rochester.edu/encyclopedia/content.aspx?ContentTypeID=85&ContentID=P01075
  3. Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. Stye (Hordeolum). https://www.chop.edu/conditions-diseases/stye-hordeolum
  4. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Cosmetics Safety Q&A: Shelf Life. https://www.fda.gov/cosmetics/resources-consumers-cosmetics/cosmetics-safety-qa-shelf-life
  5. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Protect Your Eyes. https://www.cdc.gov/contactlenses/protect-your-eyes.html
  6. National Eye Institute. Facts About Blepharitis. https://nei.nih.gov/health/blepharitis/blepharitis
  7. National Library of Medicine. An overview of the eye in diabetes. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC539505/
  8. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Shelf Life and Expiration Dating of Cosmetics. https://www.fda.gov/cosmetics/cosmetics-labeling/shelf-life-and-expiration-dating-cosmetics
  9. Avalon School of Cosmetology. Understanding the Expiration of Your Makeup. https://avalon.edu/2013/06/understanding-expiration-makeup/
  10. The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center. 6 Contact lens no-no's. https://wexnermedical.osu.edu/blog/6-contact-lens-no-no
  11. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Type 1 Diabetes. https://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/basics/type1.html
  12. UC San Diego. Choosing an Omega-3 Supplement. https://wellness.ucsd.edu/studenthealth/Documents/nutrition/omega3supp.pdf
  13. The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center. How to recognize and treat a stye. https://wexnermedical.osu.edu/blog/how-to-recognize-and-treat-a-stye
  14. National Library of Medicine. Stye. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK459349/

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