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Eye Styes

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A sty (hordeolum) is a small painful abscess that usually occurs in the oil glands at the margin of the eyelid but can also occur deeper inside the eyelid. Styes are accompanied by redness, swelling, and pus formation.

A sty (hordeolum) is a small painful abscess that usually occurs in the oil glands at the margin of the eyelid but can also occur deeper inside the eyelid. Styes are accompanied by redness, swelling, and pus formation. Although less common, internal styes are usually larger and last longer than external styes. In some cases they may temporarily impair vision, which will normalize once the stye heals.

The cause is staphylococcal bacteria, which is transmitted by hand from the nasal passages to the eye. As with any infection, we are more susceptible when run down and a sty may easily occur after exposure to cold winds or eyestrain. Generally styes do not last long, three or four days, and are usually harmless. However, they certainly make their presence known.

As a child, I used to get styes on a regular basis and my British grandfather would soak a black tea bag in boiling water as if to make a cup of tea; then, once the tea bag had cooled sufficiently, he would lightly squeeze out excess water and apply the tea bag to my eye for about 15 minutes. After three to four applications the sty would disappear.

Over the years I have suggested this tea poultice to my patients. Hot bread-and-water poultices and grated potato poultices applied the same way are also effective. If poultices don’t appeal to you, choose homeopathic remedies (see box).

Those who experience recurring styes should build the immune system with an echinacea formula twice daily (one week on, one week off), 1,000 milligrams per day of vitamin C, and 20,000 IU per day of vitamin A for six weeks. Keep eyelids clean and wash hands before touching them.

Seek medical advice when a sty remains after a few weeks, when the swelling interferes with vision, or when pain occurs inside the eye.

Homeopathic Remedies for Styes

Take each remedy at a dose of three pellets every two to three hours until symptoms improve.

Aconite: Soothes styes that threaten after exposure to cold wind or eyestrain.
Pulsatilla: Prevents formation of pus if given at the first sign of swelling and inflammation.
Hepar sulph: Facilitates draining when pus forms.

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