A hordeolum, also known as a stye, is a tender, red bump on the eyelid edge. It develops when the oil-producing gland along your eyelash line becomes blocked and infected. The most common type of stye is external, forms on the outside of the upper or lower eyelid, and is the result of an infection of the eyelash follicle. Another type of stye is called an internal stye, which forms on the inside of the eyelid. It rests on the surface facing the eyeball and is caused by an infection of the glands that produce oil to maintain a moist environment.
Styes are extremely common and usually on one eyelid but can occur on multiple. Race and gender do not affect your risk for developing styes; however, they are more common in adults than children, due to an adult’s oil glands producing thicker oil and developing an obstruction more than a child’s glands.
Some signs and symptoms of a stye include eyelid heaviness, a feeling of something in your eye, eyelid soreness, and swelling of the eyelid, which is sometimes localized to a bump and sometimes involving the entire eyelid.
To ease the discomfort, consider applying a warm compress for 10 to 15 minutes, three to four times a day. Using green tea bags warmed has shown benefits due to their antibacterial and antioxidant effects. It is advisable to avoid touching the stye, wash your hands before and after touching a stye, and wash pillowcases and glasses to prevent spreading of bacteria. Be sure to not squeeze or pop the stye, change and clean contacts as advised, and avoid wearing makeup while the stye is resolving.
Most styes will resolve on their own in a few weeks. They are not usually contagious, so refraining from activities is not necessary. If a stye does not resolve in two weeks or the stye is affecting your vision, appears to be worsening, or has caused pus, blood, or warmth to develop at or from the stye, it is advised to seek medical attention for potential need for drainage and/or antibiotics.
A stye is similar to a chalazion, which is a bump that develops farther back on your eyelid. A chalazion, however, usually is painless and not caused by a bacterial infection. Treatment for both conditions is similar.