A stye is a blocked oil gland in the eyelid. When the opening of the gland is obstructed the oil spills out into the inside tissues of the eyelid which incites an immune reaction, causing the swelling, redness and tenderness. The definitive treatment for these is to use intensive hot compresses. It should be as hot as you can tolerate without burning your skin, massaging the eyelids while they are on there. This should be done 4x/day and doing this daily, it can take up to 3 weeks of this intensive regimen for them to resolve. The ones that don't resolve after this need to be opened in a minor office procedure by your ophthalmologist
; it sounds like this may be the case with you.
As far as why they happen, for the most part some people just form these and others don't. There oftentimes is a familial tendency to get these. But also a baseline inflammation in the eyelids can contribute to the formation of these. Therefore if this eyelid inflammation, called blepharitis
, is treated daily it can lessen the incidence of these for many people.
The baseline treatment for blepharitis and what I think you should start doing, is everyday in the morning you should do two things: 1. hot compresses and 2. eyelid scrubs. You should do hot compresses for 10 minutes over the eyes, once daily. It should be as hot as you can tolerate without burning your skin, massaging the eyelids while they are on there. Then, use either commercially available preparations (Sterilid or Ocusoft) or a dilute baby shampoo solution to scrub your eyelashes on all 4 eyelids. The commercially available preparations are both over-the-counter eyelash scrubbing treatments. These cost more money but are quicker to use. Otherwise, the cheaper alternative is the dilute baby shampoo (4-5 drops Johnson's shampoo in 1/4 cup warm water): you will take the wipe (or dip a qtip in the dilute baby shampoo solution) and use that to scrub right on the eyelashes of each eyelid for 15 seconds. That will take 60 seconds when done to all 4 eyelids. The scrubbing is done right on the eyelid margin, where the eyelashes come out. After that, just splash some water on the eyes and you're done.
It does take about 3-4 weeks of doing this consistently every day before it really kicks in, so don't stop it thinking it's not working; often times combining this with the topical steroid helps to bring relief sooner. Also the eyes are still significantly dry during this 3-4 weeks so use artificial tears one drop in each eye, 4x/day. After 4 weeks you should be able to start tapering off of the tears to as you need them.
In addition, don't use tears that say get-the-red-out or redness reliever on the package. The use of these kinds of tears will actually worsen a red eye
if used for more than 1-2 days and then the eyes can stat red from this for up to several weeks after they are stopped.
Just doing the artificial tears, hot compresses and eyelid scrubs alone would likely start to help you after three or 4 weeks--but remember it could take this long of doing it everyday before you see a significant effect, so don't stop it thinking it's not working. Also you may need an antibiotic/steroid combination medicine to help augment the therapy.
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My opinion is solely informative and does not constitute a formal medical opinion or recommendation. For a formal medical opinion and/or recommendation you must see an eye doctor.