Is a stye eye contagious in any way? This is one question most people who have a close person with the eye infection normally ask. The reason for this fear is because stye can be very painful, uncomfortable and unsightly. Stye can be contagious if the bacteria that causes them are transferred to others. One good fact about this eye infection is that it can be treated at home using some remedies and eye drops, they infection can go away within few days or weeks.
WHAT IS A STYE
A stye is a red bump on the edge of the eyelid or the inner side of the eyelid, it is painful and has pus in it. Stye is caused by bacteria that blocks glands and makes them unable to function properly. The eyelid has many glands that keeps the parts of the eyes lubricated and moisturized. Meibomian glands or the small oil glands are found inside the edge of the eyelid, they help to keep the eyes from drying out. Other glands like the sweat and gland of zeis which are found on the edge of the eyelids produce and discharge oils that helps to keep the eyelashes lubricated.
When these glands or hair follicle in the eyelid are blocked by dirt or dead skin cells, they cannot function properly and this leads to an infection. With time, this infection can cause painful swelling and inflammation around the eyelid area. Another cause of stye is Staphylococcus aureu, this bacteria is found on the surface of the skin. If the bacteria is not properly kept in check, it can cause infection to the glands or hair follicle.
TYPES AND SYMPTOMS OF STYE
There are two types of stye, they are internal and external stye.
1. Internal Stye
The oil glands in the inner eyelid can become infected by bacteria, this can cause stye on the inner eyelid that faces the eyeball. Infection of the meibomian gland leads to internal stye.
2. External Stye
Sweat glands on the eyelid and eyelash follicle are infected, stye can form on the edges of the lower eyelid or upper lids. The gland of zeis and the sweat glands can cause external stye.
Common symptoms of stye are:
- Pain in or outside the eyelid
- Pus or yellowish fluid from the lump
- Tenderness and redness of the affected area
- Swelling of the eyelid
- Feeling of dust in the eye
- Sensitivity to light
- Watery eyes
CAUSES OF STYE
Styes are caused by blockage of the glands in the eyelid by dirt, debris or dead skin cells. However, there are some factors that can make some people more prone to getting stye. These factors are:
- Using dirty or unwashed hands on the eyes
- Wearing expired or old cosmetics
- Not washing the face properly
- Exposing the eyes to excessive chlorine
- Fixing lash extensions
- Wearing makeup to bed
- Poor contact lens hygiene.
Certain health condition can cause styes like:
- Peeling of the skin
- High blood pressure
- Poor immune system
- Changes in hormones
- High cholesterol
IS STYE EYE CONTAGIOUS
Stye can be infected if the bacteria spreads to other parts or if a patient with the infection comes in contact with another person. Generally, styes are not contagious but they are filled with pus and fluid that have traces of bacteria. As the infection heals and drains, the fluid can spread if not properly taken care of. Stye cannot spread to others through casual contact with an infected person. Nevertheless, the bacteria in the pus can be transferred to other parts of the body or even to other people.
Also, if you squeeze a stye, more styes will form on the eyelid or on the other eye especially if the fluid from the stye touches an uninfected place. This is to say that when you touch, squeeze or scratch a stye, you transfer the bacteria from the bump to your fingers and any item you touch contacts the bacteria. Now, anyone that touches the infected item comes on contact with the bacteria and if they touch their eye, they will develop stye.
This contact is not only limited touching items or from one person to another. Wearing makeup when you have stye can spread bacteria to glands and hair follicle of the other eye, this can cause you to have stye on both eyes. This is why a person infected with stye should always wash their hands after touching their eyes and always wash pillows and bedspread too.
HOW TO PREVENT SPREADING STYE
Stye is not typically contagious but it can spread. There are some steps you can take to reduce the number of people who will have stye.
- Avoid touching the eyes when you have stye
- Use soap and water to thoroughly wash your hands before and after touching the infected eye.
- Do not wear makeup when you have stye or share your makeup items with another person.
- Make sure your eyelids are always clean. If you cannot wash your eyes due to the pain, you can use a wet cotton swab.
- Avoid sharing eyeglasses, face masks and towel with other people if you have stye.
CAN YOU POP A STYE
You should never pop, scratch or squeeze a stye. In fact, if possible, you should not touch the stye. Remember that styes have infectious bacteria and popping, scratching or squeezing them can release the bacteria and spread them to other parts including the eye which can be dangerous.
Popping a stye will lead to creating of small, open wound which is prone is infection and contamination from other infection. Another reason why you should never pop stye is that they may not really be stye. There is another eye infection known as chalazion is somehow similar to stye including the symptoms. You may end up causing more damage.
HOW TO GET RID OF A STYE EYE CONTAGIOUS
Most styes will go away on their own within a week or two, sometimes without any drug or medical attention. However, styes can make you uncomfortable and make your face have a funny look. You can help fasten the healing process using the following methods:
1. Wash Your Hands
This may sound as a preventive measure alone but it can also help you to get rid of stye. Washing your hands before and after touching stye can help stop transferring bacteria which will make it easier for you not to get another one.
2. Clean Your Eyelids
Cleaning the eyelids will help to get rid of dead skin cells and dirt on the eyelids and eyelashes. You can dip a cotton swab in a tear-free baby shampoo and clean the eyelids. After cleaning, rinse with warm water and pat dry with a towel.
3. Apply A Warm Compress
Warm compress can be used to fasten your healing process. You can use a tea bag or a wet cloth, the compress should last for about 10 to 15 minutes. The tea bag or cloth should not be too hot, the compression is warm.
4. Do Not Wear Contact Lenses
When you have stye, you should avoid wearing contact lens, they may become infected or get discolored by eye drops or ointment for the eye. You can not wear glasses till you have fully healed.
5. Stay Away From Eye Makeup
Wearing eye makeup with stye is the easiest way to transfer the infectious bacteria to the other eye. Also, makeup can delay how fast your stye heals too.
6. Massage The Area
Massaging the eyelid with warm compress can help with the pain and swelling. If you feel so much pain while massaging, you should stop.
7. Pain Relief Drugs
Pain relief drugs like paracetamol and ibuprofen can help with the pain and headache which are the symptoms of stye. You should know that these drugs will only help with the pain and not in getting rid or treating the stye.
HOW LONG DOES A STYE LAST
Most stye will go away on their own within a week but with home remedies, they may last just for 3 to 5 days. Using home remedies can make the swelling to go down after 3 days. In cases of serious stye, antibiotics can be given, the infection can go away after a week. Surgery can be recommended if the stye has affected the eyes, this surgery is a minor one done to open and drain out the stye.
Stye is not contagious on its own but the infectious bacteria can be transferred. Common habits like popping, squeezing and scratching the stye are common ways of spreading the bacteria. Sharing eye makeup with your other eye or other people can lead to the spread of stye.
When you have the eye infection, you should avoid doing things that can make the bacteria to come in contact with others. You should try to stop sharing any item that have come in contact with your eye. Also, look for some home remedies or medicines that can help treat the eye infection.