Word of the Day - Tuesday, January 12th

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STYE (sty)

An inflamed swelling on the edge of an eyelid

Common clues: Ophthalmologist's concern; Eye sore; Eyelid problem; Ocular woe; Lid irritation

Crossword puzzle frequency: 9 times a year

Frequency in English language: (sty) 56852 / 86800

Video: Stye Health Byte

A stye (also spelled sty) or hordeolum is an inflammation of the sebaceous glands at the base of the eyelashes. They are harmless but can be very painful. They are generally caused by a Staphylococcus bacteria infection. They are particularly common in infants.

The stye may form on either the inside or the outside of the eyelid.

  • An external stye (external hordeolum) is a purulent inflammation of infected eyelash follicles and surrounding sebaceous (Zeis) and apocrine (Moll) glands of the lid margin. It shows as a tender, red swelling on the edge of the eyelid and will tend to drain itself quickly.

  • An internal stye (internal hordeolum) will also be tender and may show external red swelling. Internal styes often take longer to heal because the abscess cannot drain as easily. These types of styes can also cause blurred vision and irritation.

Most styes will drain on their own though this may be accelerated with a hot or warm compress. Styes typically resolve within 1 week with treatment.

Medical professionals will sometimes puncture a particularly persistent or irritating stye with a needle, to accelerate its draining. Their spread or expansion can also be fought with the use of antibiotic ointment akin to Neosporin (e.g. Erythromycin Ophthalmic Ointment), a special version being available for styes, which can be applied in a ribbon along the lid, on either inside or out.

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