What is Sty?
A sty is an infection on the eye area that causes lid lump. This condition, however, is often confused and mistaken with chalazion. Although they look alike, sty and chalazion are totally different.
A stye is an infection that causes a soft, red bump on the eyelid. Most styes occur along the edge of the eyelid. The medical term for sty is hordeolum. On the other hand, chalazion is not an infection, but rather a condition where a firm, round, smooth bump forms near the edge of eyelid because the oily glandular secretions are blocked by debris.
A sty is visible from the outside as small red bumps containing water and pus. It looks like a pimple and it does not usually affect vision. Your ability to see should not be affected by the presence of a stye. However, although it is not considered as a serious condition, a sty can be irritating. Not to mention that styes can spoil your appearance.
Types of Sty
Most people experience one or two styes at some point in their life. And although it can go away in a few days without treatment, we would want to get rid of a sty as soon as possible. At some point in your life, you may experience an internal sty or an external sty.
- Internal sty (internal hordeolum) is rather rare. It is a red and painful swelling that develops on the underside of the eyelid. The swelling points inwards to the eyes. It will eventually heal when the abscess dries.
- External sty (external hordeolum) is the common type of sty. It is a swelling that appears along the edge of your eyelid. External sty is typically less painful and it lasts for several days. The swelling will ultimately bursts and disappears completely after a few days.
What Causes Sty?
Styes are usually caused by a bacterial infection. Staphylococcus bacteria are common to be found living on the skin. They are basically harmless. They eat the dead skin cells and debris on the surface of our skin. But when it grows in the root (follicle) of an eyelash, a painful, pimple-like swelling may appear.
An internal sty is caused by infection of the bacteria in one of the tiny oil glands (meibomian) inside the eyelid. These glands produce an oily liquid to keep our eyes moist, which is also a part of our tears.
On the other hand, styes on the outside of the eyelid (external sty) may be caused by an infection in the eyelash follicle, sebaceous (Zeis) gland, or apocrine (Moll) gland. Follicle is where each of our eyelashes grows. Meanwhile, sebaceous (Zeis) gland produces oily substance that lubricates the eyelashes, and apocrine (Moll) glands are sweat glands. Bacterial infections in these glands will develop a lump, causing a sty.
A sty can also be caused by blepharitis, a condition that makes the eyelids red and swollen. Blepharitis causes burning or sore eyes, crusty eyelashes, and itchy eyelids. Blepharitis itself is commonly caused by a bacterial infection or rosacea—a skin condition that affects the face.
A sty starts with a red swelling that looks like a pimple along the edge of the eyelid. The bump may feel tender and painful when you touch it. As the sty grows, you will find white or yellow pus develops inside the red bump. You may also find your eyes watery. In some cases, sty causes burning sensation and the bump feels itchy. You may also feel discomfort when blinking your eyes. Be advised not to rub it, as the condition may get worse.
Usually, only one sty develops at one time, but in some cases patients have more than one sty, or when both eyes are infected with styes. Don’t panic because a sty is not a serious condition and it will not likely affect your vision. Although watery eyes will probably make your vision rather blurry.
Most styes heal in about a week when the pus inside the eyelids breaks and dries. However, styes can be infectious. It is recommended to always wear eyeglasses until your sty heals completely.
An internal sty is a rare case but it can be more serious because it is infecting the underside of the eyelids. You may need medical help from an eye doctor to open and dry it.