A stye (hordeolum) is a localized, purulent, inflammatory infection of one or more of the sebaceous glands of the eyelid. Styes commonly occur on the skin surface at the edge of the lid or on the surface of the conjunctiva, the mucous membrane structure that lines the inner surface of the eyelids.
Styes usually result from infection by staphylococcal bacteria. Often an eyelash is found in the center of the stye. Frequently, it is secondary to blepharitis or immunoglobulin M(IgM) deficiency.
Signs and Symptoms
The chief signs and symptoms are pain and tenderness of an intensity directly related to the amount of swelling. There is redness at the site.
Visual examination is all that is necessary in most cases to make a diagnosis; however, a culture may be taken to isolate staphylococci.
Warm compresses applied to the eyes for up to 10 minutes four times a day may be prescribed to hasten the pointing of the abscess. Removal of an eyelash may be followed by pus drainage. An incision and drainage of the abscess under local anesthesia may be necessary. Antibiotic eyedrops or ointment may be used. If the infection warrants the use of oral antibiotics, they may be ordered.
Once the infection has been treated, the eye may be dry. The eye can be rinsed with a normal saline solution, as some over-the-counter eyedrops may irritate the eye.
It is essential that clients keep the affected eye clean and avoid rubbing or irritating it. Remind clients to return in 2 to 4 weeks for followup assessment by the primary care provider or ophthalmologist.
The prognosis is good with treatment, but recurrences are common. A complication of a hordeolum is an inflammation, or cellulitis, of the eyelid.
Prevention includes cleanliness, proper eye care, and keeping hands away from the eyes.