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     Volume 4 Issue 11 | September 3 , 2004 |

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Stys: A Pain in the Eye

A sty is an acute infection of the glands or hair follicles (eyelashes) of the eyelids. This common infection results from blocked glands within the eyelid. When the gland is blocked, bacteria can form a local area of pus, causing a lump. That lump will point out into the skin, looking much like a large pimple. Usually, there is one obvious area of swelling on one lid, but many stys can appear on both eyelids. The infection goes away when the pus drains from the sty.

Stys are usually caused by staphylococcal bacteria. Seborrhea (excessive discharge from the glands) may increase the likelihood you may develop one of these infections. Certain activities can contribute to the blockage of the glands.
*Improper or incomplete removal of eye makeup
*Use of outdated cosmetics
*Poor eyelid hygiene
*Insertion and removal of contact lenses, especially if your hands or contacts are not properly cleaned
*Inflammatory diseases of the eyelid, such as blepharitis

Signs and Symptoms
*A lump on the top or bottom eyelid
*Localised swelling of the eyelid
*Tenderness to touch
*Crusting of the eyelid margins

Home Care
Most stys will go away on their own in five to seven days.
*Apply warm compresses two to four times a day for about 20 minutes at a time to help the drainage. Keep your eyes closed.
*Gently scrub the eyelid with tap water or with a mild soap or shampoo (such as baby shampoo). This may help with drainage. Close your eyes as you scrub so you do not injure your eyes.
*Do not squeeze or puncture the sty. A more serious infection may occur as a result.

When to Go to the Doctor
Sometimes, complications may occur from a seemingly innocent problem. Contact your doctor immediately if the following problems occur:
*The eye is swollen shut.
*Redness appears around the entire eye.
*You have any change in your vision.
*Swelling lasts for more than three weeks.
*The sty or stys come back or bleed.
*Your eyelashes fall out.
*The sty is on the bottom eyelid, near the nose.
*Pus or thick discharge continues to drain from the eye.
*You have a fever higher than 100.4°F.

When to Go to the Hospital
Any change or disturbance in vision, high fever, difficulty opening the eye, or widespread redness of the eye or eyelid warrants a visit to a hospital's Emergency Department.

A sty may come back, even after appropriate medical or surgical care. These persistent stys need further evaluation and care because they may indicate other health concerns.

Good hand and facial washing may prevent stys from forming or coming back. Also, all cosmetics and cosmetic tools should be kept clean and protected from the environment. Makeup should be thrown away when it becomes old. Do not share makeup or eye cosmetic tools such as eyelash curlers.

The sty will usually go away within one week. Re-evaluation is required if the sty lasts for more than three weeks. Rarely will stys require biopsy or removal in the operating room. If so, a one-week follow-up is recommended after surgery.

Source: eMedicine



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