I Spy on Your little Eye…
First, a stye / sty also called a hordeolum is a localized infection in the eyelid that causes a tender, red bump near the edge of the lid. The infection is most often caused by Staphlococcal Bacteria and it can occur at the base of an eyelash (external hordeolum) or within one of the small oil glands within the eyelid (internal hordeolum).
The questions I am asked are often very similar: “What exactly is a STYE / STY? Where do they come from? HOW did I get it? I haven’t changed anything” ect … The responses are also pretty standard: “I don’t touch my eyes, I don’t wear eye makeup”… and there are SO many more questions and responses. Well, I have decided it’s time to de-funk some of the misconceptions, of which I have found there are many…
Here are seven things to know about eye styes:
- Styes are contagious.
- Styes typically don’t cause vision problems.
- Styes are caused by Staphylococcal Bacteria.
- First signs are usually pain, redness, swelling, tenderness and or itching.
- Some styes heal on their own.
- Never “pop” a stye. It’s filled with purulent drainage (PUS)
- Other eye problems can accompany styes & can be potentially serious
Styes are usually caused by Staphylococcal Bacteria. Oftentimes, the same bacteria that naturally resides on your skin. Different parts of our bodies, host different bacteria. The problem comes from when the bacteria move to other body parts…The most common type of bacteria that causes a stye is Staphylococcus. These bacteria are generally harmless, but sometimes they can get stuck along with dead skin cells in the glands in your eyelids. This can cause you to develop a swollen, discolored bump on your eyelid.
Generally eye styes don’t last too long, 2-3 weeks. They can develop over the course of a few days. In serious cases they can persist for quite a while. There are a number of different things that you can do that can contribute to the development of an eye stye. If you’ve experienced one and you’re wondering what you did to get it, perhaps the following tidbits of information can help you, so you can avoid getting any in the future.
Potential #1: Touching Mucus (your nose)…Yup, I said it!
One of the most common & easiest ways to spread the staphylococcus bacteria is from your nose. If you do this and then touch your eyelids, it’s quite easy for the bacteria to be transferred to your eyelids. Think about it, you sneeze, you rub your nose because it’s itchy OR it’s running and you don’t have a tissue handy. You don’t think anything about it, but a few minutes later you rub your eyelid, or it’s itchy…see where I’m going with this? Here’s the easiest thing to do; NEVER, ever touch your eyes, OR face without first washing your hands. YES! it’s true. What about how many door handles you’ve touched thru out the day? OR how many times have you used a credit card key pad in the store? Do you have ANY idea how many people have touched that, coughed into their hands, sneezed and pressed in their code to use the credit feature? Eeewwww! It’s SO true!! It is a very common thing most never think about. The fact is bacteria is everywhere and most people do not wash their hands too often thru out the day to day, unless they are in a profession that demands it. Make sure to clean your hands or avoid touching any mucus before touching other parts of your body. It’s also important to clean any discharge from your eye to prevent the further spread of the bacteria.
Potential #2…Hand Hygiene: Could it be a Smidgen Better?
Some peeps experience recurring styes. In this case, it’s a sign that facial /hand hygiene might not be up to par OR make up brushes are rarely cleansed. How many times do we cough into our hands? There’s bacteria there too, from the mucous you cough. If you get styes time and time again, this could indicate that you need to take better care cleaning your hands, face, make up brushes…IE: (not washing make-up off before going to bed) Remember those ablutions!!
Potential #3…Dirty Contact Lenses
It’s important to make sure that you disinfect your contact lenses every day. If you don’t, it becomes easier to spread bacteria when you’re putting them on. Most contact lens solutions are disinfectants, so if you store your contacts properly, you should be relatively safe. Ensure that your hands are clean when you’re putting your contacts in and taking them out to prevent the chance of developing any problems. Additionally, check the “visine drops” bottle. How old is it?
Potential #4 Old Cosmetics & Dirty Make-Up Brushes…
Ok, so this can be incredibly serious. Dirty make-up brushes (not washed weekly OR daily) and old make-up. Last year on FB was a photo that went viral. A young woman from Texas, named Katie Wright, was treated for cellulitis…what is that? you ask:…it’s a very serious bacterial infection that is quite painful and in rare cases can be fatal. Nope, not kidding. Not even a smidgen of exaggeration. Her face was disfigured in an hour once the infection started. The culprit? Dirty make-up brushes, old make-up. What does that mean exactly? I know, I can hear it now; I spend so much money on my make-up, I’m not throwing it out!” Girl, I hear you… but the reality is this; most make-up has a healthy shelf life of 6mos. NOT years! Mascara is 3mos. Especially, here on the coast where the bacteria count is generally high and even more so, during May grey & our oh, so sweet, June gloom! If you have some older cosmetics sitting around OR you don’t use your cosmetics often, you might want to think twice before using them. This is because old cosmetics (older than 6mos) can actually be breeding grounds for bacteria. In addition to making sure that you’re using fresh cosmetics that haven’t had a chance to garner the growth of bacteria, you’ll also want to make sure that you take the time to properly clean off your cosmetics. Keeping cosmetics applied to your skin for extended periods of time can be dangerous because it can contribute to the clogging of your pores. This, in combination with unhygienic practices, can make it a lot easier for you to develop an eye stye. There are certainly cosmetics available that are intended to be less detrimental to your pores. However, in all cases, the best thing to do is make sure that you wash off your cosmetics regularly. Let me be very CLEAR… this does not mean warm water only. Water alone will not clean off make-up. Some type of make-up remover needs to be used. I personally, swear by Xtreme Make-up Cleanser. It’s all botanicals, it takes off everything with great ease and doesn’t effect my lash extensions. Considering the fact that you’ll be applying these cosmetics directly to your face, you may want to make sure that you’re using fresh cosmetics. It’s also important to sanitize your hands before and after putting on cosmetics to prevent the spread of bacteria.
The simple reality is we live in a world full of germs and those little devils are getting stronger and stronger. The term “Super Bug” isn’t in reference to a Disney flick! Antibiotics are dished out like candy and the bugs are getting quite accustomed to them…on top of many who “self-prescribe” and never finish off the dosage correctly, (I digress)but that’s another blog for another day.
Wash those hands all the time, everyday and maybe think about some organic hand sanitizer for the car, your purse etc… and not touching your face or eyes w/out first washing hands. Happy clean hands are the majority of the battle!!
In Gratitude… Madison, aka “The Mad Lasher” (wink)