Are Eye Styes Contagious & Can You Pop a Stye?

Almost everyone has been afflicted with a stye at some point in their life. A stye is a common affliction that shows up as a painful red bump on the upper or lower eyelid. It is usually near the eyelashes. A stye can be extremely painful, though it is relatively harmless. It is generally just a harmless inflammatory response of the body to a bacterial infection. Let us take a look is eye styes are contagious and can you pop a stye?

Are Eye Styes Contagious & Can You Pop a Stye?

What is a Stye and is it Contagious?

A stye appears as a red and painful bump on either the upper or the lower eyelid, very near to the eyelashes. A stye, though very painful, is rarely harmful. In fact, it is typically the body’s harmless inflammatory response to a bacterial eye infection.

It is rare for styes to spread from person to person. However, it can happen if the bacteria gets transmitted from one person to another. This can happen from using a contaminated pillowcase or towel or also through direct contact.

Styes are generally caused by Staphylococcus bacteria. This bacteria is usually found in our nose where it remains without causing any complications. However, if you are carrying the bacteria and you end up rubbing your nose first and then your eye, it is possible for the eye to become infect, resulting in a stye.

Who is at a Risk For Getting Eye Stye?

It is more common to see a stye occur in children rather than in adults, though it can develop at any age. If you have had a stye earlier, then you are at a higher risk of getting it again.

You are also at a higher risk of getting styes if you have blepharitis. This is a chronic condition that causes the eyelid to become inflamed due to the blockage of the tiny oil glands present at the base of your eyelashes.

Conditions such as rosacea and diabetes also increase the risk of getting a stye. Rosacea is a condition that leads to red patches on the skin.

If you have had contact with or you share a pillowcase or towel with someone who is having a stye, it may increase your risk of getting a stye as well, but it is extremely rare.

Is It Okay To Pop A Stye?

It is never okay to pop a stye. It can not only cause the infection to worsen and spread to the rest of the eye but instead of being a stye, it might be a chalazion, which you mistook for a stye. A chalazion is a slow-growing inflammatory bump that forms in the tear gland present in the eyelid. These are usually painless and do not require treatment, but it may need to be removed by a doctor if it starts affecting your field of vision.

How Do You Identify a Stye?

There are many conditions that look similar to a stye. The commonly noticeable symptoms of a stye is a bump or a lump that forms. This lump is usually painful, but in some rare cases, it can remain painless as well. A stye typically forms on the inside or on the outside of the eyelid. In some cases, it is possible for a yellowish fluid to start draining from the stye. It is also rare for a stye to form near both the eyes at one time. It tends to only affect one eye at a time.

Before the lump starts developing, you will notice that there is redness or tenderness at the affected place. The eyelid also becomes painful when you touch it. Sometimes, there can also be swelling on the entire eyelid.

You will continuously feel like there is something inside your eye as if there is dust irritating the eye whenever you blink. The eye affected by the stye may also become unusually sensitive to light and watery.

If you have a stye, then you need to ensure proper hygiene. Wash your hands each time you touch the eye or even the area around it. This will help stop the infection from spreading.

How is a Stye Diagnosed?

If you suspect that either you or your child might be having a stye, then you will need to consult a doctor in order to get a proper diagnosis. Also, visit a doctor if your stye does not start getting better after a couple of days or seems to be getting worse. If you find liquid oozing from the stye, it will be good to consult a doctor in that case as well.

A doctor will diagnose a stye from a visual examination and after a review of your medical history. There are no special screenings or tests required for making a diagnosis.

Treatment for a Stye

There is usually no need to treat a stye as it tends to just fade away on its own without requiring any treatment.

Try and avoid touching the stye and never try to pop the stye. The stye contains bacteria-filled pus which is likely to spread the infection further into your eyes and even elsewhere.

Treatment for stye usually involves just simple home remedies such as flushing your eyes with saline solution or salt water and using a warm compress.

After touching the stye, make sure you wash your hands properly to prevent the spread of the infection to other places.

Can You Prevent a Stye?

There are certain preventive steps you can take to prevent the occurrence of styes. The primary step you can take is to ensure you wash your hands frequently and also refrain from touching your eyes, especially when you are outside of the house. Washing your face every day will also help avoid any blockage to develop in the oil glands present in your eyelids. A blockage such as this can cause many complications, including styes.

Also avoid sharing of pillowcases and towels, especially if you know that the other person is having some sort of eye infection or a stye. Make sure to wash your towels and pillowcases regularly. It is also recommended that you avoid sharing makeup and also replace any makeup that gets old. This is because bacteria starts growing in cosmetic products over a period of time.

If you are wearing contact lenses, then clean the lenses on a daily basis and also replace them when and as your eye doctor recommends. Make sure you wash your hands before you apply or remove your contact lenses.

If you suffer from blepharitis, then it is important you maintain good eye hygiene every day in order to lower your risk of developing styes and getting any other eye-related complications. Blepharitis is a condition that seldom disappears completely, so it is important you take care of your eyes.

If you are getting styes regularly, then you should discuss the potential causes with your doctor. In this case, there could be more preventive measures you can take, such as using an antibiotic eye ointment.

Also Read:

Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:February 22, 2022

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