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Have you ever woken up with a bump on the skin around your eye and been frustrated that, somehow, you’re still getting pimples? Chances are it’s not acne at all, but a stye. So how do you know the difference and how do you treat them?

What are those bumps?

A stye is a small, white bump on the edge of the eyelid that you can see. Sometimes they feel like something is in the eye and can cause irritation. A stye can be caused be an overgrowth of bacteria, a blocked gland, or poor hygiene. They can also be associated with allergies. They are rarely caused by viral infection.

“Getting styes is very normal,” CEENTA Ophthalmologist Joshua Rheinbolt, MD, said. “You should only worry about them if they happen regularly.”

A pimple, on the other hand, is when excess oil is trapped in the pores of your skin. The sebaceous glands are blocked by dead skin cells, which causes the pimple to grow. Pimples don’t form on your eyelid because you don’t have sebaceous glands there. So, if you have a bump on your eyelid, it’s a stye, but if it’s on the skin surrounding your eye, it’s a pimple.

How do you treat them?

CEENTA eye doctor Joshua Rheinbolt, MD

There are a variety of ways to treat pimples, from keeping your skin clean to using a variety of medicines. However, styes should be treated differently. If they don’t resolve on their own, you should apply warm compresses to the site four or five times a day. You may also want to clean the area. An over-the-counter eyelid scrub or foam once a day can clean the area and decrease the amount of bacteria there, Dr. Rheinbolt said. He also recommends gently massaging the eyelid, as that can open the gland.

If the stye doesn’t go away on its own or it gets worse, medical treatment may be needed. In some cases, your doctor may prescribe an antibiotic/steroid drop. In other cases, they may have to make an incision or lance them in order to drain the stye. If those treatments don’t work, surgery may be needed.

While some people might try to lance them themselves with needles, Dr. Rheinbolt cautions against that, as that can lead to infection.

People with styes should avoid wearing contact lenses or makeup, and should not apply lotions to their skin.

While no one wants bumps on their skin, styes, like pimples, are easy to treat and CEENTA is happy to care for you if they are causing you concern.

This blog is for informational purposes only. For specific medical questions, please consult your physician. Dr. Rheinbolt practices in our Concord office. If you would like to make an appointment to talk to him or another eye doctor about a stye, call 704-295-3000. You can also schedule an appointment online or through myCEENTAchart.


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