A stye is a swollen lump located near the eye lashes on either the outer edge or the underside of the eyelid. The cause of a stye is an infection of the oil glands or hair follicles on the eyelid. Styes typically heal on their own within a few days, so most stye treatments attempt to limit the associated symptoms by reducing the swelling and accelerating the natural rupturing of the stye. Medical treatment options are to lance or open the stye, drain it, and treat it with an antibiotic ointment and steroid cream. When suffering from a stye, one should try to avoid touching the eye, avoid using contact lenses, cosmetics, or eye creams, and it should not be lanced by anyone other than a doctor.
Most styes will heal on their own in a few days and do not typically require extensive stye treatments or a visit to the doctor. As a result, most stye treatments are geared towards minimizing symptoms and promoting healing. One of the best treatments is to place a warm, wet compress on the stye to soothe the pain and to naturally assist in the rupturing of the stye. White or green tea bags, steeped in hot water and cooled to a safe temperature, can also be placed on the stye for soothing comfort and their antibacterial properties. These treatments should be done several times a day for ten minutes at a time.
When a stye lasts longer than a week, the eye is severely swollen or painful, or pus is observed, it may be necessary to see a doctor. Typical medical stye treatments involve lancing the stye and draining the fluid. When this procedure is done, the patient will be given an antibiotic ointment to prevent infection and sometimes a steroid cream to minimize the swelling.
It is important to prevent the spread of a stye while it heals. The stye should never be ruptured because the infection could spread, accidentally injure the eye, or become severely infected. Anyone suffering from a stye should avoid touching the area or rubbing the affected eye, and if the stye sufferer wears contacts, the contacts should not be used until the stye heals. The use of cosmetics and lotions around the eye should also be avoided to prevent the spread of the infection, accidentally rupturing the stye, or aggravating the sensitive skin surrounding the stye.