A stye is a pimple-like bump that forms on or in the lower or upper eyelid as the result of a blocked gland and in most people, it is not contagious unless certain circumstances are met, such as touching a stye and then transferring the infection to another person where it may or may not cause a stye or another infection. The bumps appear as painful, red bumps on the edge of the eyelid, usually where the lash meets the eyelid.
In an interview with HT Lifestyle, Dr Anurag Wahi, Senior Consultant at Sharp Sight Eye Hospitals, explained, “Bacteria or a blockage in the oil glands of the eyelid is one of the reasons which causes bumps on the eyelids. This eye condition is more common and anybody can get it. Children and individuals with blepharitis in the eyes are more likely to develop an eyelid lump. Blepharitis causes the sides of the eyelid to become swollen and sometimes turns red.”
Talking about the complications of eyelid bumps, he said, “The most common risk factor is a sluggish outflow of the sebum from the meibomian glands, which is commonly seen in a chronic inflammatory condition called meibomian gland dysfunction. Other risks may include obstruction of the gland’s opening by scar tissue following infections, burns, or trauma. Foreign substances such as makeup and dust can also clog the gland’s opening if not properly washed away.”
He cautioned, “If the infection from the eyelid bumps spread to the surrounding skin, this is called cellulitis. An individual would require antibiotics to treat it. Rarely, the infection may spread closer to the eye – this is a medical emergency and needs immediate treatment. Scar tissue can form in your eyelid if you have very serious eyelid bumps or don’t get treatment as needed. This can leave a small, hard lump or nodule in the eyelid. Your ophthalmologist may need to remove this if it’s affecting your vision or eyelid.”
Bringing his expertise to the same, Dr Shalinder Sabherwal, Head of Community Ophthalmology and Additional Medical Director at Dr Shroff’s Charity Eye Hospital, elaborated, “An eyelid bump commonly, known as a stye or chalazion, is usually caused due to a bacterial infection or blockage in the oil glands of the eyelids. An eyelid bump may give you a permanent scar on the eyelid and compromise your vision, if not treated timely and properly.”
He recommended, “It is advisable to consult an ophthalmologist if the condition does not go away in a few days. Your doctor may prescribe antibiotics or painkillers based on the severity of the infection and discomfort. Usually, an eyelid bump will go away on its own or with little home care. Keeping a warm compress on the affected area for 5-10 minutes multiple times a day might help in the healing process. Sometimes a stye may become large enough to cause hindrance in the vision. In such a case, your doctor may need to drain the infected fluid under sterilised conditions.”
He advised, “Severe cases might require surgical intervention. It is noted that some people are more prone to recurrent styles. Never try to squeeze or pop the stye as it will only worsen the condition by spreading the infection to other areas. Avoid wearing eye makeup till the style goes away. The use of contact lenses should also be stopped for this time. Despite the temptation to touch the eye, avoid doing so at all costs, especially if your hands are not clean. It is worth mentioning that a stye is not contagious i.e., it cannot spread to another person.”
Visit your ophthalmologist if you have any kind of bump on the eyelid that doesn’t go away. They will make sure it’s not another condition that needs prompt treatment as in some cases, skin cancer and other conditions can form a tiny lump on the eyelids.