Blackmores sty

Stye

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A stye (or hordeolum) occurs when an eyelash follicle becomes infected.

Symptoms

  • Initially, a painful red swelling appears near the edge of the eyelid.
  • The swelling becomes larger, and may develop a white or yellow head, called a point, which is usually located on the inside of the eyelid or on its edge.
  • The eyes may become watery and/or feel gritty (as though something was under the eyelid), but the eyesight is not affected, and nor is there any damage to the eye itself.
  • Styes generally resolve without treatment within a few days, either by bursting and releasing pus, or by gradually becoming smaller.
  • Occasionally, the infection can spread to involve multiple styes, or even the whole eyelid, in which case medical intervention is required.

Causes

Styes are usually caused by infection with Staphylococcus bacteria, which are normally present on our skin.  Blowing your nose and then touching your eyes may be all it takes to spread the bacteria to the eyes.

Some people are more prone to styes than others.

Factors that increase the likelihood of developing styes include being diabetic, suffering from a debilitating illness, and having high blood lipid levels (e.g. high cholesterol or high triglycerides).  People who suffer from the eye condition blepharitis or the skin condition seborrhoea are also susceptible.

Natural therapies

  • Echinacea helps support the immune system and may assist your body in fighting infections; the antioxidant nutrients betacarotene, vitamins C and E and the minerals zinc and selenium may also be of assistance.
  • Garlic has traditionally been used to help the body fight infections, and displays antimicrobial activity against a wide range of infectious organisms, including Staphylococcus bacteria. It is often taken with echinacea, which also supports immune function.

Diet and lifestyle

  • Hot compresses are a traditional method of relieving the pain of styes, and can also be used to draw out pus, fight infection and encourage healing. To make one:
    - Boil some water for 10-15 minutes to make sure it is sterile, then allow it to cool. You want the water to be hot, but not so hot that it burns you.
    - Soak some cotton pads or clean fabric in the water.
    - Lie down, and place the hot compress over the affected eyelid until it cools down.
    - Replace it with another hot compress and repeat the process for fifteen minutes at a time, 3-4 times per day, until the infection is resolved.
    - Discard the used compresses thoughtfully, remembering that they have been in contact with infectious matter.
  • Practice good hygiene. Wash your hands frequently, with warm water and soap, and take care not to touch the stye with your hands.
  • Don’t try to burst or lance a stye yourself. When it’s ready to burst, a stye will normally do so itself – only occasionally will you need to visit a doctor to have it lanced.

Important notes

  • See your healthcare professional if your stye spreads, or if it takes longer than a few days to resolve. You may require either topical or oral antibiotics, or a condition other than a stye may be present.