Signs and Symptoms
1. A small, reddish, painful bump on the upper or lower eyelid near the base of an eyelash.
2. Tearing in the affected eye.
3. Itching, burning or a feeling of having something in the eye.
What to Do Now
1. Apply a soft, clean washcloth that has been soaked in warm water and wrung out; hold it to your eye for 10 to 15 minutes. Repeat this two to four times a day, until the sty goes away.
2. Use a new washcloth each time, so you don’t spread the infection. Wash used cloths in hot water with detergent.
3. If the sty comes to a head and bursts, carefully wash the pus from the eyelid and apply an antibiotic ointment. Don’t pick at the sty.
When to Call a Doctor
1. If the stye does not respond to home care within a week, a doctor may prescribe antibiotic drops or ointment, or may lance and drain the stye.
2. If the stye enlarges but doesn’t break open and drain.
3. If styes keep coming back. Rarely, recurrent styes can be a sign of cancer of the eyelid.
4. If there is an infection elsewhere in your body. A doctor may prescribe a systemic antibiotic.
5. If there are any signs of skin infection spreading on the eyelid.
How to Prevent It
1. Styes can come back again if the bacteria spread.
2. Try to avoid touching or rubbing your eyes.
3. Wash your hands frequently with soap and water.
4. Don’t share towels or washcloths.
5. Change towels and pillowcases often.
6. Be careful not to share eye makeup or eye drops, and discard used cosmetics after six months.
7. If styes tend to recur, clean the outside of your eyelids daily: Dip a cotton swab into a teacup of warm water containing a few drops of baby shampoo. Gently wash the lashes of each closed eyelid with this solution once or twice a day.