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Old wives tales: Sometimes they make you wonder; sometimes they are amusing while there are times when they seem outright ridiculous! Did you know these old wives’ tales?

•If you deny a pregnant woman the food she craves, you will end up with a sty in your eye.
•To cure a sty, rub it three times with a gold ring.



What is a Sty?

A sty is a bacterial infection involving one or more of the small glands near the base of your eyelashes. It is also called as a hordeolum. It looks like a boil or pimple on the outer edge of your eyelid. Rarely, it may also occur on the inside of your eyelid. The bacteria usually grow inside the root of your eyelashes.
A chalazion is a lump in your eyelid that may very much resemble a sty. However, it is caused to a blocked oil gland and is usually not as painful as a sty. A chalazion is usually harder to feel and larger than a sty.


What causes a Sty?

• Bad Personal Hygiene: A sty is caused by bacteria especially the type called staphylococcus. These bacteria can find a way to your eye if you touch your eyes without washing your hands or use unclean towels to wipe your eyes.


A few factors can put you at an increased risk of catching this infection like:

  a.Not removing eye make-up overnight
  b.Using cosmetics that have become old or have expired
  c.Wearing contact lenses without washing your hands or your lenses
  e.Hormonal Changes

• Inflammation: A long standing inflammation of your eyelids (called Blepharitis) can lead to the formation of a sty. Blepharitis can also be associated with certain other conditions like seborrheic dermatitis also called rosacea.
(And no, a pregnant lady or her cravings have nothing to do with the bacteria reaching your eye!)



Do I have a Sty? (Signs and Symptoms)

A red lump on the edge of your eyelid
Pain in the eyelid
Excess tearing
Formation of crusts around your eyelids
Swelling of your eyelid
Droopiness of your eyelid
Mucous discharge in your eye

In case you develop any of the below symptoms, you need to contact your Ophthalmologist:

Your sty does not begin to improve after 2 days

The swelling spreads from your eyelid to your cheeks or other parts of your face.

Sty lasts for more than 3 weeks

Your eyelashes fall out

You have a high fever

Redness appears around your entire eye

The white part of your eyes turns red

You have any change or disturbance in your vision


What are the tests for a Sty?

Your doctor will be able to diagnose a sty just by examining your eye. Usually no other tests are required.
Your Ophthalmologist may use a slit lamp to examine your eye.

If your doctor suspects that the infection has spread from your eyelid to your eye socket, a CT scan of your eye may be asked for.


How is a Sty treated?

Usually home treatment is sufficient to treat your sty. It does not require any specific treatment per se. It usually heals on its own
•Warm Compress:  This can help relieve your pain to quite an extent. Dip a clean cloth in warm water. Wring it, close your eye and place it over your eye. Re-dip the cloth when it loses its warmth. Continue this for 10-15 minutes. You can do this 3 – 6 times a day. It can also help the sty to drain and heal faster.
•Avoid wearing eye make-up or contact lenses until complete healing has occurred.
•Do not squeeze your sty. You might end up helping the bacteria to spread.


For a sty that persists, you may be advised:

•Antibiotic Eye drops or Ointments may be prescribed. If your infection spreads beyond your eyelid, oral antibiotics may be given.

•Surgery: If your sty does not heal on its own, your doctor may give a small cut and drain the pus so that your pain is relieved.


How can I prevent a Sty?

Wash your hands with soap or use a hand sanitizer many times throughout the day. This is especially so, before you touch your eyes or rub them.

Avoid sharing cosmetics with others. Throw away any old cosmetics or ones that might have expired.

Maintain good hygiene while wearing or removing your contact lenses.

(And you can keep gold rings handy if you wish to test the veracity of these tales!)