What Is a Stye?
A stye is a pimple or abscess that forms in either the upper or lower eyelid. It is an inflammation caused by blockage of an oil duct and bacteria that normally live on the surface of the eyelid without any problems. Some germs can get trapped along with dead skin cells along the edge of the eyelid. Styes are usually superficial and plainly visible. Occasionally, they can reside deeper within the eyelid.
An external stye starts as a pimple next to an eyelash. It turns into a red, painful bump that may last several days before it bursts and then heals. Some external styes are short-lived and heal on their own, while others may require the care of your eye doctor.
An internal stye (on the underside of the lid) also causes a red, painful bump, but its location prevents the familiar whitehead from appearing on the eyelid. The internal stye may disappear completely once the infection is past, or it may leave a small fluid-filled cyst that may have to be opened and drained.
If the clogged gland of a stye never gets better, scar tissue develops around the swollen gland and the pain subsides and a “bump” remains. That bump is called a chronic chalazion (pronounced cha-LAY-zee-yon).
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