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What is a stye?

A stye, also called a hordeolum, is an infection that affects the eyelids. It can be on the outer or inner surface of the eyelids and affects the gland of the lids. A stye appears as a small pimple or elevation on the eyelid.

What are its main signs and symptoms?

  • A stye typically looks like a pimple near the eye.
  • It is small and red in colour. Since it has pus, it will have a small yellow centre.
  • The presence of a stye will cause pain in the region of the eye, which increases on closing and opening the eyes.
  • The eyelids appear swollen, and there may be some discharge from this swelling.
  • Eye movements are uncomfortable, the eyes water frequently, and there is a constant feeling of a foreign body in the eye.

What are the main causes?

  • A stye can be caused by a bacterial infection.
  • Risk factors include an immunocompromised state and a nutrient deficit diet.
  • Since it is an infection, it can spread through contact, sharing napkins or other accessories.
  • Poor personal hygiene is another factor that increases the risk of developing a stye.
  • Sometimes, excessively dry eyes can also trigger the infection.

How is it diagnosed and treated?

  • Diagnosing a stye is extremely simple and requires no investigative procedures.
  • A doctor will diagnose it by just looking at it under a light.
  • A stye resolves on its own in most cases, which takes a few days.
  • If it persists or is increasingly painful, the doctor will advise treatment.
  • If needed, antibiotics are given to cure the infection and eliminate the bacteria.
  • If there is a lot of pressure build-up in the stye with the accumulation of pus, a small incision is made to relieve the pressure.
  • It is advisable to maintain good personal hygiene, avoid sharing towels and refrain from touching the stye repeatedly.
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  1. Willmann D, Patel BC, Melanson SW. Stye. [Updated 2019 Apr 7]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2019 Jan-.
  2. Bragg KJ, Le JK. Hordeolum. [Updated 2019 May 4]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2019 Jan-.
  3. Better health channel. Department of Health and Human Services [internet]. State government of Victoria; Styes
  4. MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia: US National Library of Medicine; Eyelid bump
  5. healthdirect Australia. Stye. Australian government: Department of Health
  6. HealthLink BC [Internet] British Columbia; Styes and Chalazia
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