A common problem in the office of primary care doctors and ophthalmologists is a stye. These red, painful lumps form at the lid margin(the edge of the eyelid) and come in 2 basic forms:
- Chalazion–from the Greek “hailstone” a non-infected lump
- Hordeolum–from the Latin for “barley,” also a lump, but with more generalized redness and pain due to secondary infection. These can be further divided into internal or external lid problems.
With both problems the cause is blocked glands within the lid itself; if on the inside surface a “Meibomian” gland, on the outside surface a “Zeiss” gland. In both instances, the purpose of these glands is to secrete lubricating mucous onto the lid as it slides over the eye; the gland’s duct becomes blocked and the mucous is unable to be pushed out. So in some ways, it’s similar to acne–a pimple on your eyelid.
Risk factors for styes (either type) include blepharitis or conjunctivitis (either infectious or allergic), eyelid skin conditions like eczema, excessive sweating after play or workout, eye makeup, or unclean objects held against the face.
Given the above, the best approach is prevention–mainly, keep the eyelid clean. Wash the child’s face well, launder blankets/stuffed animals and bedding regularly, modest use of eye make up (editorial comment–isn’t that mostly better anyway?), use antibiotic (for BACTERIAL infection) or allergy drops where appropriate.
Generally, treatment for stye is conservative and supportive–OTC analgesics; moist, warm heat–teabag or washcloth against the eye for 5 minutes several times daily; do not use eye makeup or contact lenses until the problem has resolved. Oral antibiotics are occasionally needed for more extensive infection, and surgical intervention with incision and drainage is even less frequently indicated.
In some instances, styes may be recurring. Redouble efforts at keeping eyes clean from makeup, sunscreen, detergents, lotions, and other topical agents. There is anecdotal, but good, data suggesting that regular supplementation with oral omega-3 oils can help prevent styes from recurring as well.
If you have questions about stye/chalazion/hordeolum in your child please give me a call, and thanks for following.
Thanks to Eye Physicians of Northampton for featured image.