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What causes a stye, risks and how can you treat and prevent

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A stye is a bacterial infection that appears at the base of the upper or lower eyelashes and usually occurs in both eyes, in different locations along the eyelid. The reason behind stye is that the sebaceous glands near the base of the eyelashes become clogged and cause irritation, inflammation, and sometimes even a bacterial infection.

Here’s everything you need to know about the causes and risk factors of stye.

Causes and risk factors of stye

A stye is an infection that is usually caused by a blockage of oil glands in the eyelids. Apart from blocked oil glands, a bacterial infection can also lead to the formation of a stye. The following reasons can increase the chances of developing a stye:

1. Using cosmetics after their use-by dates
2. Not removing eye makeup before going to bed
3. Not disinfecting contact lenses before putting them in
4. Changing contact lenses without washing the hands thoroughly
5. Having inadequate nutrition
6. Not getting proper sleep

Although stye is not contagious, if an individual has a stye, the other person should not share washcloths or face towels. It will help reduce the risk of cross-infection because there may be residual bacteria on the towels.

eye problems in monsoon
Causes and risk factors of stye. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

Prevention and treatment of stye

Although most red bumps near the edge of the eyelid are harmless, and often not stye at all. They usually heal on their own in 2-4 days, but a stye can be a nuisance. Meanwhile, there are a few home remedies that may help you get rid of a stye fast, or at least reduce some of the discomfort and swelling that often accompany a stye.

Also Read: Eye problems: Is it an allergy or pink eye?

1. Clean the eyelids with a soap-water solution

Mix water with a mild soap (tear-free baby shampoo can also be used) and then use a cotton swab or washcloth to wipe off the eyelids with the solution. It should be continued daily until the stye is completely healed. Additionally, cleaning the eyelids regularly may also prevent future stye.

2. Using a warm compress

A warm compress is the most effective way to get rid of stye. The warmth of the compressor helps bring the pus to the surface and dissolves the pus and oil so the stye can drain or squeeze naturally.

3. Washing hands regularly

Wash your hands regularly to prevent particles from reaching the eye and clogging the glands. This can prevent stye from spreading and also reduces irritation of an existing stye.

washing hands
Treatment options to get rid of a stye. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

4. Do not pop stye

An individual shouldn’t pop, rub, scratch, or squeeze a stye, as popping a stye can open the area, causing a wound or injury to the eyelid, and can lead to several complications.

5. Altering makeup habits

Covering the stye by applying makeup can slow healing and may irritate the affected area of the stye. Also, more bacteria can also be spread into the region by makeup brushes and pencils.

Also Read: Love make-up? It’s time to keep it away from bacteria for flawless skin

6. Antibiotic cream

Your ophthalmologist may prescribe an antibiotic ointment for your stye to help combat bacteria causing the infection. The antibiotic ointment not only helps to stye drain, but it also helps to prevent the infection. If the infection is more severe or widespread, your eye care provider may prescribe and suggest oral antibiotics.

7. Warm tea bags

Tea bags contain caffeine and antioxidants that can help reduce swelling around the affected area of the stye. It also helps to reduce inflammation, puffiness, and irritation.

8. Massaging

Massage the infected area using clean hands, which might help drain the stye. However, you must not do it if it hurts. Also, don’t touch the eyes with dirty hands and keep the area clean once it drains.

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