A stye is an inflamed oil gland that forms along your upper or lower lash line or sometimes under your eyelid. Some people regularly develop styes while others rarely get them. Styes are a common condition that many people experience throughout their life and can usually be easily treated at home. Styes vary in size and appear as a red, swollen, and tender bump near the edge of the eyelid.
Styes are similar to pimples that appear on other parts of the body. A stye sometimes develops a white or yellow head on top of the bump. Depending on the size of the stye, the eye may become irritated and vision may be slightly impaired. In addition, styes often cause the eye to water.
Other possible symptoms include:
- Tenderness of the eyelid
- A gritty, scratchy sensation in the eye
- Sensitivity to light
Some people confuse styes for another type of bump on the eye called a chalazions. Unlike styes, chalazions are mostly painless. Chalazions appear as small bumps in the eyelid that are caused by blocked oil glands. Similar to styes, chalazions can usually be treated with a warm compress. If left without treatment, some styes eventually turn into chalazions.
If you notice a sore spot on your eyelashes without the appearance of a bump, a stye may be starting to develop. Use this as a warning sign and start applying warm compresses to the area right away. This allows you to treat the stye as quickly as possible and speed up healing.
If you find that you have serious problems with your vision and your stye doesn’t heal on its own within a week or two you should seek the help of a health care professional. Styes may burst as they heal and release fluid or shrink in size without draining as the immune system combats the infection.
The bacteria from one stye can sometimes spread and cause additional styes. When an individual has multiple styes or their entire eyelid is infected, of if you notice that irritation and swelling has moved beyond your eye and spread to other areas of your face, such as your cheek, it is best to visit a health care professional.