A stye (hordeolum) is a red and painful lump on one of the edges of the eyelids. A stye is an infection of the sebaceous glands that forms an abscess, usually caused by a staph bacterium.
The developmental origin is a sebaceous gland of the eyelashes, which is affected by bacteria, cellular debris or excessive sebum.
Barley grains are a very common type of infection of the eyelid.
There are two types of barley grains:
- Outer stye. This is the most common form.
It appears along the eyelid and is the result of infection of the root (follicle) of an eyelash.
It can start as a small dead lump and continues to develop by forming a small abscess (accumulation of pus). It appears as a yellow, pus-filled spot.
- Inner stye. This is also called Meibom’s stye.
It occurs when a type of glandular (meibomian gland) becomes infected in the eyelid.
This type of stye is found on the inner surface of the eyelid, directed against the eyeball.
Causes of a stye
According to conventional medicine, a stye is caused by a staphylococcal infection.
Staphylococci often live on the skin without causing any damage.
Causes of external barley grains
An outer stye (on the outside of the eyelid) can occur due to one of the following reasons:
- infection of an eyelash gland (a small hole in the skin from which a single eyelash grows);
- Infection of the Zeis sebaceous gland – this gland is attached to the follicle of the eyelash and produces a fatty substance, also called sebum, which greases the eyelashes and thus prevents dehydration;
- infection of an apocrine gland (minor) – this sweat gland opens in the follicle of the eyelash; the liquid combines with the film of tear fluid, which covers the eye and prevents it from drying out.
Since the stye is contagious according to conventional medicine, you can get it, for example, if you dry the face with the same towel of a person who has a stye.
Causes of internal barley grains
An internal stye is caused by an infection of a meibomian gland.
The meibomian glands are located on the eyelids and create a fatty fluid that is part of the tear film that covers the eye.
A stye can be the complication of another condition called blepharitis. Blepharitis causes inflammation of the eyelids, which turn red and swell.
The symptoms of blepharitis are, for example:
Blepharitis can be caused by a bacterial infection or the result of a skin condition such as rosacea (a chronic condition that causes patches and redness of the face).
If you suffer from chronic blepharitis, then the risk of developing a stye is higher.
Recurrent styes may be related to a chronic skin problem of the face called rosacea. The dermatologist can determine the presence of rosacea and recommend efficient drug therapy.
Many people who have a stye feel a millimeter-sized numb spot that affects a few eyelashes.
Frequent use of hot compresses at the first signs of infection can help eliminate this disorder.
Symptoms of the stye
The symptoms of a stye develop in this sequence:
- A painful and red protrusion that develops on the eyelid.
- The stye grows larger, possibly forming a white or yellow dot. This means that pus forms in the stye.
The point can be located at the edge of the eyelid (where the eyelashes grow) or inside the eyelid. It rarely occurs on the outside of the eyelid.
- The stye can irritate the eye, causing pain and lacrimation; you may also feel that there is something in the eye (as if there were an eyelash in the eye).
- If the surface of the stye breaks open, the pus empties to the outside.
- If the pus comes out of the stye, the knot disappears quite quickly.
Otherwise, it may take a very long time for the swelling to pass.
- The stye can perish without rising, namely if the immune system is able to bring the infection under control.
Complications of the stye
The longer a stye is on the eye, the more likely it is that it will develop into a chalazion (hailstone).
This is a clogged sebaceous gland that becomes infected.
A chalazion causes:
- Bump on the eyelid.
The ophthalmologist may recommend an incision to empty the hailstone and may recommend cortisone infiltration to reduce swelling.
Diagnosis of a stye
The doctor must know the symptoms and medical history before starting his examination.
It is unlikely that the doctor will refer the patient to a specialist for therapy.
The family doctor can carry out the treatment and keep the condition under control.
The doctor must rule out other possible disorders of the eyelid, such as:
- Eyelid xanthelasma – cholesterol deposits form on the eyelids, usually they occur in old age.
Xanthelasma is harmless, but it is a sign of elevated cholesterol.
- Papillomas – pink or skin-colored elevations.
Papillomas are harmless, but can grow slowly and impair vision or cause aesthetic problems.
In this case, they can be surgically removed.
- Cysts – small, fluid-filled bulges that can affect vision.
Treatment of a stye
Most barley grains disappear on their own within a few days or weeks, so treatment is not always necessary.
However, if a stye does not improve, various treatment methods are available.
The doctor may prescribe antibiotics to be applied locally (for example, an ointment containing erythromycin, gentamicin or tobramycin) if the infection is severe.
Natural remedy for stye
A hot poultice is a simple and effective method of treatment for barley grains. To do this, use a clean towel or piece of fabric immersed in hot water.
You have to feel a pleasant warmth on the skin, it must not be too hot, so that you do not burn yourself.
The poultice should be pressed on the eyelid for 5-10 minutes.
In this way, the contents in the stye heat up and favor the exit.
You should put this envelope on three or four times a day until the stye improves.
It is important to keep the surrounding area of the eyelid clean and free of fat particles or crusts, especially if the stye is associated with blepharitis.
You can use a small amount of children’s shampoo dissolved in water.
Apply with a cotton swab along the eyelid and wash off again.
If you have blepharitis and a stye at the same time, you should not use make-up (for example, mascara) on your eyes, as this could aggravate the disease or prevent improvement.
Contact lenses should also be avoided because they can additionally irritate the eyes.
a stye A stye must never be pressed on like a pimple. You have to wait until the stye opens on its own.
It is possible that a stye that has formed inside the eyelid (the so-called inner stye) does not open and does not pass on its own.
The doctor may recommend using a moistened cloth to clean the eyelids daily.
This reduces the risk of styes and blepharitis.
How to prevent barley grains?
If barley grains recur, one may want to consider better eyelid hygiene.
This means that you have to rub the eyelid regularly to remove the excessive germs and cell residues.
It is important to avoid contact of the eyelids with cosmetics, dirty towels or contaminated hands.
To reduce the risk of infection, cosmetics should not be shared with other people; it is advisable to throw away packaging that has already been opened. In addition, it is important to clean the face before going to bed and remove the make-up.
Contact lenses must not be used on a stye; to prevent occurrence, it must always be ensured that the contact lenses are clean.
As long as there is a stye, you should not go into a swimming pool, because chlorine irritates the eye and can increase inflammation.
According to natural medicine, the infection arises as a result of poisoning of the blood:
- diet rich in animal proteins, cooked, processed and transformed foods;
- taking medications;
- incorrect way of life;
- lack of physical activity;
- tight-fitting clothing that prevents perspiration and keeps the skin warm; as a result, the blood from the skin sinks into the internal organs, where the blood influx provokes inflammation.
According to the blood type diet, the stye is caused by a reaction of the immune system to some foods.
There are foods that must be avoided depending on the blood group (for example, members of blood type A should not eat red meat).
In addition, there are foods that can be harmful to anyone, such as:
- milk and dairy products,
- fried and smoked foods,
- Sausages and pork.
Avoidance of infection with a stye
Recommendations to avoid the spread of infection:
- Do not touch, rub or squeeze the stye.
- Dispose of used bandages in the garbage so that others cannot touch it.
- Wash hands frequently.
Recovery times (prognosis)
Barley grains often improve on their own, the duration is between one and three weeks. However, they can recur.
The result is almost always excellent with a simple therapy.
Sometimes the infection can spread to the rest of the eyelid.
This disease is called orbitaphlegmon.