A stye is a painful eyelid bump that is actually a bacterial infection with abscess formation (or simply, a collection of pus, like a pimple) in the glands of the eyelid.
The meibomian glands are structures in the eyelid that create oils, called meibum, for lubricating the surface of the eye, enhancing comfort. This meibum is the very outside layer of the tears and keeps your tears from evaporating.
When the meibomian glands are blocked, this can lead to eyelid inflammation. If a meibomian gland is blocked and then becomes infected, a stye can result.
There are two types of painful eyelid bumps though, and a blockage of the meibomian gland is called an internal hordeolum. This will appear deeper inside the oil glands and will be red and inflamed without the white top.
The other type is an external hordeolum and typically looks like a pimple that has “come to a head,” meaning it has a white top and is ready to pop (But please don't!). This is caused by a blockage of the gland of Zeis or Moll.
The glands of Zeis and Moll service the eyelashes, secreting oil onto them, keeping them clean and moisturized.
Symptoms You May Experience
Redness on the eyelid, especially around the bump
Pain in the eyelid and around the eye
Inflammation and irritation of the eyelid
Blurred or partially blocked and obstructed vision
Itching and soreness in the eyelid (try not to rub it)
We discuss tea tree essential oil all the time, because it has great antibacterial properties that make it helpful for many eyelid conditions. Because tea tree is so strong and must be diluted before using, we always recommend using a prepared tea tree oil solution meant for use on the face. For example,the MediViz Tea Tree Eyelid Wipes are a great example of a product that can be used while you have this condition. Check price and purchase on Amazon by clicking here.
Eucalyptus leaves have been used for centuries for skin ailments, and it can be used in this case as well. Just like tea tree oil, it must be diluted properly, but it can be beneficial in managing an eyelid bump. In addition to this, it does have a strong fragrance, so some people may be sensitive to this particular oil.
Lavender has anti-inflammatory properties that make it beneficial for those with eyelid lumps and bumps. Like other essential oils, this one needs to be well diluted before using but can help manage eyelid bumps.
We love coconut oil! First of all, make sure to use only organic, unrefined coconut oil, as this is less comedogenic than regular coconut oil (meaning it won't clog pores). This oil has antibacterial, antifungal, and anti-inflammatory properties that can be of benefit for many situations. Simply wash your hands and apply a small amount to your eyelids, repeating several times per day. This oil can clog pores in some people, so make sure to discontinue use if you believe this is an issue for you.
Castor oil is another oil that can be useful, but make sure you use organic, hexane free castor oil. Just like coconut oil, it has hydrating properties and can assist in supporting your eye health. After washing your hands, apply castor oil directly to your closed eyelids and reapply as often as desired.
Clove is antibacterial and anti-inflammatory, so it can be super beneficial for a painful eyelid bump. It may help calm both the area by simply being mixed with a carrier oil (like coconut oil) and applied to the area several times per day.
Lemon is well known for its antiseptic properties and it is also antibacterial, making it great for painful bumps and inflammation. If you have the oil handy you can dilute it with a carrier oil and apply to your eyelid bump using the same method noted above.
I want to start out this section by discussing direct application of essential oils to your eyelids. We have seen many patients and read a lot of articles that discuss putting essential oils directly on the eyelids and we STRONGLY RECOMMEND NOT doing this.
Remember that an essential oil is a heavily concentrated oil of a specific plant and some of these plants that we use are toxic to humans, like tea tree oil.
Also, when putting an essential oil on your eyelid, some is bound to get into the eye, which can cause burning and irritation.
With that being said, when using an essential oil close to the eye, make sure it is heavily diluted or mixed, or just purchase a commercially available mixed essential oil that is made for the part of the body that you are trying to support.
Eye makeup has the potential to clog all the glands inside and outside of your eyelids. When you have an active infection, LIMIT your eye makeup use ordon'twear any eye makeup at all.
Above, we discussed using a premixed essential oil solution instead of applying essential oil directly to the eyelid. This eye makeup remover is a great mix for moisturizing the eyelids and eyelashes, while at the same time removing all that pesky waterproof eye makeup.
We love this eye makeup remover because it doubles as an eyelid wipe and is incredibly easy to use.
To use, simply lather the soap between wet hands and apply in circular motions to your wet face, taking care to close the eyes tightly and rinse them well afterward. The tea tree oil soap should be used twice per day while the stye is active and can be used once to twice per day for maintenance and to prevent recurrence of eyelid bumps.
We love this soap because it only contains minimal ingredients.
Painful eyelid bumps are a result of the glands getting clogged due to excess bacteria or hardened oil. Using a warm compress will heat up this hardened oil which will lead to a more liquid oil and better gland expression.
We recommend a warm compress four times daily when you have a painful bump and once daily to prevent recurrent infections.
With all of the bacteria that naturally live on our eyelids and skin, it is so important that those who are prone to bumps on the eyelids to always keep their eyelids clean. If you suffer from eyelid irritations, bumps, or red eyelids, cleaning your eyelids and eyelashes with an effective eyelid cleanser is the best way to ensure that contaminants do not lead to difficult-to-treat eyelid issues.
A hypochlorous-based cleanser is great because it's super gentle and requires no scrubbing. Simply spray it onto a cotton ball or round and apply.
The eyelids are in an area of the face that is called the "Triangle of Death," which can be just as dangerous as it sounds. Since a painful bump on the eyelid is most often an active bacterial infection, if you try to pop it and the infection goes in deeper, instead of expressing out (like a pimple), then it can cause a deeper infection in the eyelid. Alternatively, it can cause an infection of the eye as well or, even worse, an infection in the brain.
7. Do Not Wear Contact Lenses During an Active Infection
Contacts increase the bacteria count in your eyelids, because it is a piece of plastic in your eye disrupting the tear film. If you have an active infection, not wearing contact lenses will help aid in the healing process.
8. See Your Eye Doctor
As stated above, this is an active infection that should be looked at by a medical professional. You may need an antibiotic, especially if the above options are not working for you. It is always best to get a professional opinion on what to do for your eyelid bump.
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