Stye and chalazion – what helps?

Stye and chalazion - what helps?

A stye is a mostly purulent inflammation of the glands in the eye. Unlike chalazion, which is also an eyelid infection, a stye is caused by bacteria. Both forms of inflammation are considered harmless but annoying and can always recur if treated incorrectly. How do we treat them, and how do we prevent them?

What is a stye?

A stye is a joint, acute inflammation of the eyelid’s glands. A bacterial infection causes an accumulation of pus in the eye, which can be painful but usually heals without complications.

In technical jargon, one also speaks of a “hordeolum” (from the Latin word hordeum – barley ).

Causes of a stye

The purulent inflammation is caused in most cases by staphylococci. These spherical bacteria often settle on human skin and mucous membranes, for example, in the nose. As typical pus bacteria, they cause abscesses and infect skin injuries and wounds.

If such bacteria penetrate the sweat and sebum glands at the eyelids’ edges, they cause severe inflammation there – a stye form.

The bacteria can get into the eye in several ways. For example, unwashed hands or improper eye care can transfer germs into the eye, which then causes an infection. Therefore, styles are common in children, who often look at themselves with dirty fingers.

Risk factors for a stye

Several factors can increase the risk of developing a stroke. Risk groups include people with a weakened immune system and those with diabetes mellitus. This is because these risk groups are prone to staphylococcal infections of the skin. Therefore, if a stroke occurs repeatedly, it is advisable to have diabetes ruled out by a doctor.

In addition, a hordeolum is also often associated with acne. Wearing contact lenses or contamination from make-up residues can also promote the development of a stye.

 

What are the signs of a stye?

A sudden onset of inflammation usually characterizes a style. The following symptoms can occur with a stye on the upper or lower eyelid:

  • a painful and purulent swelling
  • a reddening of the corresponding spot
  • pressure sensitivity
  • a feeling of tension
  • itching
  • sometimes swelling or reddening of the conjunctiva

Usually, with a style, the symptoms are limited to the affected eye. In severe and rare cases, however, a general feeling of illness with fever or swollen lymph nodes can also occur.

Inner and outer style

Depending on which glands are inflamed in the eye, a distinction is made between two forms of style:

  • The hordeolum internum (inner style) affects the sebaceous glands inside the eyelid – the Meibomian glands. The conjunctiva can also become inflamed, or the edge of the eyelid can warp. The inner style occurs more frequently than the outer but needs to be more recognizable.
  • With hordeolum externum (outer style), the external Zeis glands (sebaceous glands) or Moll glands (sweat glands) are affected. Since the style is on the outside, in this case, this shape is more straightforward to recognize.

Course and duration of a grain of barley

The course of a stye usually develops harmlessly and without complications. How long the inflammation lasts can vary. After a few days to a week, the stye bursts on its own, the pus drains and the inflammation heals.

Style – when to see a doctor

Barley grains are harmless. In most cases, a hordeolum ruptures on its own and then heals.

Sometimes, however, there can be complications: For example, the inflammation can spread to the entire eye (orbital phlegm) or a lid abscess can develop. This can happen significantly when those affected push the style.

In the worst case, the staphylococci can even get into the bloodstream and cause meningitis. Therefore, a doctor should be consulted if the inflammation spreads beyond the typical appearance of a stye, is very painful, or if the hordeolum does not burst open within a few days.

style in children

Even in children, a stye is usually harmless and heals independently after a few days. However, there is a risk that children will constantly rub or touch the inflamed eye. This allows the bacteria to spread, and the inflammation could be transferred to the other eye, for example.

In addition, the inflammation is quite painful and uncomfortable. Therefore, a visit to the doctor is recommended for children. They can prescribe eye drops or an ointment to relieve symptoms and aid healing.

A doctor must be consulted in the event of complications, such as fever or the spread of inflammation. Of course, this also applies to adults.

Style: treatment

A stye usually heals on its own. However, the healing process can be supported by various methods:

  • Since styes are caused by bacteria, eye drops or ointments containing antibiotics can help (for example, with the active ingredient gentamicin). Although these require a prescription, they accelerate healing by reducing swelling and disinfecting the eye.
  • Over-the-counter antiseptic eye ointments, for example, with the active ingredient bibrocathol, also work against inflammation.
  • Dry heat has also proven effective, for example, irradiation with a red light lamp. It is recommended to use this for 10 minutes three times a day.

On the other hand, home remedies such as moist, warm compresses are counterproductive – even if they are often recommended. However, the bacteria are more likely to be carried away, and further infections can occur. If you want to treat a stye with homoeopathy, you should consult your doctor beforehand.

If the stye does not break open on its own or if severe swelling or pain occurs, an ophthalmologist must treat the stye by pricking it open and thus removing it.

 

Keep your hands off your eyes!

Even if a hordeolum is harmless, you should never try to open a stye by squeezing or piercing it. Serious infections can occur.

Since the bacteria are also contagious, you should not touch the site of inflammation and wash or disinfect your hands regularly. Otherwise, it can quickly happen that the infection spreads to the other eye or that other people are infected – for example, through the transmission of the bacteria via a door handle.

What is the difference between style and hailstone?

A style is often equated with the so-called hailstone – but these are different forms of eyelid inflammation. A chalazion, known technically as a stye, is characterized by nodular eyelid swelling. It usually develops slowly and can grow to the size of a pea over time.

However, unlike styes, chalazion is not caused by bacteria but is a chronic eyelid disease that usually does not cause pain. A chalazion occurs when the Meibomian glands become blocked. In rare cases, it can be the result of a stroke.

What to do with a hailstone?

Smaller hailstones can occasionally spontaneously recede independently after a few weeks or months. Sometimes, a hailstone bursts open so that the secretion can be emptied.

Therapy with red light can also promote healing in the case of hailstones. The ophthalmologist will either prescribe an ointment to stimulate regression or they will surgically remove the chalazion. For this purpose, the hailstone is opened under local anaesthesia, and the secretion and the inflamed tissue are removed.

If a chalazion doesn’t go away on its own soon, you should always have it examined by an ophthalmologist to rule out a tumour in the glands.

 

Prevention: Preventive eye care

Ophthalmologists recommend careful eye hygiene if there is an increased tendency to styes and chalazia by cleaning the edge of the eyelid very carefully, preferably with very mild baby shampoo, especially after inflammation and after surviving an operation on a chalazion. The eyelid should then be dabbed dry and then rubbed with antibiotic ointment for a while. In the case of recurring complaints, it is advisable to exercise caution when choosing shampoo and cosmetic products.

Eyebright, a herbal drug mainly in the form of drops, is said to help prevent conjunctivitis and chronic eyelid inflammation and styes. It also helps with eyestrain and dry eyes.

Since a weakened immune system can promote the development of styes, a healthy lifestyle is also essential. This includes a balanced diet and sufficient exercise.

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