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How Can You Prevent a Stye?

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A person with a stye on their upper right eyelid looks left.

If you’ve ever noticed a small red bump on your eyelid—kind of like a pimple—you might have dealt with a stye. This common eye condition develops when a bacterial infection causes inflammation in the tiny oil glands around your eyelashes, irritating the area and causing swelling. While your optometrist can help manage a stye, prevention can be much easier than a cure. So how can you prevent a stye from developing?

The easiest way to prevent a stye is by practicing good eyelid hygiene. Make it a habit to regularly clean your eyes with mild soap and lukewarm water, or even baby shampoo for a gentle touch. If you wear makeup, always wash it off before going to bed. Regularly wash your hands before and after touching your eyes, and try to avoid rubbing or scratching them—especially if you already have any inflammation in the area.

What Is a Stye?

A stye, also clinically known as a hordeolum, is a red, painful bump that forms on the edge of your eyelid. It looks and feels extremely similar to a pimple—a small, swollen, red lump that’s tender to the touch. Because of this, they’re often mistaken for regular acne.

Styes are caused by an infection in the tiny oil glands near the eyelashes. These glands can become blocked, plugged, or impacted in some way, and end up with bacteria trapped inside. This lets them grow and spread in a close environment, leading to inflammation and irritation.

Over a few days it can grow into a painful small red bump. While styes can sometimes drain and heal on their own, this isn’t a guarantee. If left unaddressed, they can harden and entirely block the oil gland to cause a chalazion—a hard red bump that can have additional effects in the area around the eye.

A stye can be made worse if you have other bacteria or infections in the surrounding area. This makes it crucial to learn the signs that you have a stye; this way, you can step in and take matters into your own hands.

How to Tell if You Have a Stye

So how do you recognize a stye? They look extremely similar to pimples, which means they can easily be overlooked. 

So try to keep an eye out for the following signs:

  • A red, painful bump on your eyelid, usually only on one eye
  • Eyelid swelling
  • Tearing
  • A gritty, scratchy feeling in your eye
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Crusting around the eyelid

If any of these sound familiar, you might be dealing with a stye. So what do you do?

A close-up image of a person's eye with a stye on the lower right eyelid.

Can an Optometrist Remove a Stye?

Usually, styes go away on their own. If you practice good hygiene around your eyes, this is the likely outcome; they’ll eventually begin to drain and disappear. However, this isn’t a guarantee.

First, make sure that you never pop a stye. This may seem tempting, but it’s a quick route to spreading pus and bacteria all across your eyelid. This spreads the infection to the surrounding area and can make the problem worse.

Instead, make a point to visit your optometrist. They can examine your stye and help treat the problem. Usually, this involves gently warming the area before carefully draining the stye. Don’t try to do this yourself; if you’re not careful, you can hurt your eye. Instead, leave this to the professionals.

Tips for Preventing Styes

When it comes to styes, prevention is often the easiest way to deal with the problem. It all starts with practicing regular hygiene; by keeping your eyes and the surrounding area clean, you can significantly reduce the risk of developing an infection.

It helps to:

  1. Keep your eyelids clean. Every day, try to gently wash your eyelids with mild soap and warm water, or even with some baby shampoo.
  2. Remove any makeup before going to bed. If you leave makeup on while you sleep, you’re risking blocking your pores and increasing the chance of infection
  3. Avoid touching or rubbing your eyes, as this can transfer bacteria from your environment directly to your eyes.
  4. Try not to use old or expired makeup products, as they can be a breeding ground for bacteria.
  5. Regularly use warm compresses, as this helps open the pores and glands around the eyes.

By taking active steps to prevent a stye from developing, you can keep your eye healthy and clean. And don’t forget to regularly visit your optometrist for up-to-date advice on maintaining your eye health!

When to Visit Your Optometrist

If you’re dealing with a stye, don’t try to deal with it alone; instead, come visit our team at Total Vision Novato.

Our experienced team can help find the right solution to your problem and give you advice on maintaining your eye health. Book an appointment today, and take the first step towards happy and healthy eyes!

Written by Total Vision

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