Natural ways to deal with eye styes

Have you ever woken up to a pesky, painful red lump on the edge of your eyelid? A stye in the eye is quite a common affliction and can affect all age groups including babies. You can spot them quite easily – a stye is a red, swollen lump on the edge of the eyelid which can make the eye look and feel swollen and bruised. They can be irritating and painful. This blog explores what styes are, why they happen, and some proven natural remedies. Plus look out for a little hack I learnt from my friendly GP when my son was little.

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What is a stye?

The medical term for a stye is a hordeolum, which means an infection of the oil glands in the eyelid. This condition leads to the development of a red, painful lump, resembling a pimple, on the eyelid’s edge. Styes can be external or internal to the eyelid. The main culprit behind the formation of a stye is a bacterial infection called Staphylococcus aureus which is accounts for 95% of cases. It’s a very common skin infection that can also lead to infected eczema as well as impetigo.

Why do people get styes?

Several factors contribute to the development of styes, including:

  • Poor hygiene: Not removing eye makeup properly or touching the eyes with dirty hands can introduce the Staphylococcus aureus bacteria to the eye area. If there is Staphylococcus aureus on another area of skin, it is easy to transfer this to the eye.
  • Stress: High stress levels can weaken the immune system, making it easier for infections to occur.
  • Tiredness: Lack of sleep can mean that you rub your eyes more, therefore transferring bacteria into the area. Tiredness also reduces the effectiveness of the immune system, which allows the bacterial infection to grow.
  • Blocked oil glands: Conditions that lead to the blockage of the eyelid’s oil glands, such as blepharitis, can result in styes.
  • Chronic inflammation: people with chronic eyelid inflammation such as hay fever or allergies are more prone to developing styes.

Natural remedies for styes

While styes often resolve on their own, certain natural remedies can speed up the healing process and alleviate discomfort. Two effective natural treatments include warm compresses and silver eye drops.

Warm Compresses
Simply soak some cotton wool or a muslin cloth in some warm water and use as a compress on the eye. Gently place the warm compress on the affected eyelid for about 10-15 minutes and repeat this process 2-3 times a day.

I remember when my eldest son was little, he got a stye and we visited our local GP who was Greek, and she suggested using a warm chamomile tea bag as a compress on his eye, which worked a treat. As he was so young, I was only able to wipe the eye with the tea bag as he was too wriggly to use it as a compress for any extended period of time. So, I used this trick whenever my kids got a “gooey sticky eye’ when they were unwell.

Occasionally someone can be sensitive to chamomile and develop an allergy to it, so try the chamomile on some skin away from the eye first if you or your child are prone to allergies.

Silver Eye Drops
Tiny particles of silver can be suspended in a liquid base to make eye drops. Silver is known for its antimicrobial properties and is now used in a whole host of topical applications from plasters to antiseptic creams. In eye drop form the silver makes a potent natural remedy for bacterial infections, including styes, which can simply be dropped into the side of the affected eye 2-3 times per day until it has cleared.

While these natural home remedies can be effective, you still need to take precautions:

  • Always ensure your hands are clean before applying any treatment to the eye area.
  • Do not attempt to pop or squeeze a stye, as this can spread the infection.
  • If symptoms persist or worsen, consult a medical doctor. Some styes may require medical treatment, such as prescription antibiotic eye drops.

Nutritional support
If you are prone to styes, blocked oil glands in the eyes or have blepharitis then there is some evidence that increasing your intake of omega 3 fatty acid foods such as salmon, sardines, mackerel, anchovies and shellfish as well as walnuts, flaxseeds and chia seeds can help to reduce the associated inflammation.

Round up

Styes, while typically not serious, can cause significant discomfort. Natural remedies like warm compresses and silver eye drops offer a gentle, effective way to alleviate symptoms and promote healing. Remember, prevention is key. Maintaining good eye hygiene and managing stress levels can help you to prevent the reoccurrence of styes.

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