Stye In Your Eye? A Look At This Common Problem

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Have you developed a swollen spot on your eyelid? This swelling may resemble a pimple, and it may be a bit painful or uncomfortable if you press on it. Chances are, what you're dealing with is a stye. Styes are not overly serious or harmful, but they can be pretty annoying. Here's what you need to know.

What is a stye?

A stye is similar to a pimple in that it is a localized infection that occurs deep inside a pore. But instead of forming in a pore on your skin, it forms in one of the oil glands found along the edge of your eyelid. The infection begins when bacteria enter this oil gland. Then, your body sends white blood cells to fight off the infection bacteria, and this results in the pus-filled swelling.

Most styes start as tiny bumps and become larger and more painful over a period of a few days. They will usually heal within a week or two.

What can you do to treat your stye?

The stye will be most painful until it breaks open and drains. Once it does break open and drain, the pressure will be relieved. Do not squeeze your stye to encourage it to rupture, as this could damage your eye or eyelid. Do not use a needle or tweezers, either. What you should do is hold a warm compress against your eyelid a few times per day. This will help open your oil gland and encourage the stye to drain. Sometimes the stye will open and drain into your eye, and other times it may drain outward. Once the stye pops, the resulting sore should heal within a few days.

What should you do if your stye does not go away?

If you've had your stye for a week or more and it has not burst, make an appointment with your eye doctor. They can safely pierce and drain the stye, which should ease your pain and promote healing.

Can you prevent styes?

Some people are more prone to styes than others due to the size and position of their oil glands. If you are prone to styes, you won't be able to prevent them entirely -- but there are a few ways to reduce the chances of one forming. Try not to rub your eyes as this can introduce bacteria to your eyelids. Do not let dust or dirt get into your eyes, as this can clog your oil glands and cause a stye to begin forming. Also, minimize your use of mascara, eyeliner, and other cosmetics.