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Styes: What’s on my eyelid?

Have you ever noticed a small, painful red lump on your eyelid before? Chances are, you had a stye. Like a pimple, styes are caused by bacteria that infect the oil glands on your skin. In this case, the oil glands on your eyelid called the meibomian glands. These painful lumps are generally harmless and may go away on their own, but it’s important to know what they are, how they form and how to treat them.

What are they?
A stye is a red, painful lump on the edge of your eyelid that seems like a pimple. It usually forms on the outside of your eyelid, but it can develop in the inner part of the eyelid.

Common symptoms of a stye may include:
• A red lump on the eyelid, similar to a pimple
• Eyelid pain or swelling
• Tearing

How does a stye form?
Styes form when bacteria infects the oil glands in your eyelid. A bacteria you’re familiar with, staphylococcal is responsible for most styes. Because a stye is an opportunistic infection, getting one can be a sign of a weakness in your normal defense mechanisms. A normal healthy eye with adequate tear production will usually be free of meibomian infections.

Common causes:
• Touching your eyes with unclean hands
• Inserting contacts without disinfecting your hands thoroughly
• Leave eye makeup on overnight
• dry eye

How to treat a stye
At the first sign that you are developing a stye, you should begin applying a warm compress by using a washcloth with hot water. Apply the compress for 15 minutes for the best results. If there is no improvement in 24 hours, you should see your eye doctor for further evaluation. The risk of the infection spreading to other parts of the eye and possibly into the orbit (the bony socket containing the eyeball), makes it important to deal with these infections sooner rather than later.

Dr. King at Premier Medical wants to remind patients the importance of washing their hands before wearing contacts or touching your eyes. If you have a stye that isn’t healing on its own, make an appointment.

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