This lid is a stye!
April 10, 2012 7:36 AM   Subscribe

Please recommend OTC products/at-home treatments and preventive measures for recurring eye styes and eyelid issues. Gross details within!

I suspect my recent woes are related to allergies -- I live in a high-allergen area (ugh) and spring is often a rough time for me, even though I take a Zyrtec every day. I first noticed issues with my eyes last summer -- sometimes my eye or eyelid would be badly swollen and that would last for a couple of days. It went away for a while in the fall & winter, but for the past month or more I've had a succession of uncomfortable, annoying eye styes (I think). They range from tiny ones on the inside of my eyelid (between lash line and eyeball) that look like gross little pimples to what feels like a general swelling of the eyelid. I've had these non-stop -- as soon as one heals, another one forms (sometimes on the same eye, sometimes on the other eye).

I wash my face every morning in the shower and then at night with Dr. Hauschka Cleansing Milk. I haven't put on any eye makeup since this started, but I do usually apply a little powder to my face every day, and it's possible the brush may occasionally touch my eyelid. Otherwise no product ever touches my eyes. Today, though, my eye hurts so much and feels so dry that I may use some Systane eyedrops, unless you guys tell me that would be a mistake. I try very hard not to touch my eyes, but this recent bout of itchy/uncomfortable styes has made it an extra difficult challenge lately. :(

I have no medical insurance and from what I've read, it doesn't seem like going to a doctor is really necessary anyway. I know you are not my doctor. I'm really looking for product suggestions for things I can try to alleviate the discomfort while these things resolve themselves, and I'd LOVE to find a way to make them stop happening!

Also, if it's relevant, I had LASIK in 2004. Thanks for your help!
posted by pupstocks to Health & Fitness (17 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
The topical stuff for styes (it's mostly mineral oil I believe) usually works for me.
posted by COD at 7:50 AM on April 10, 2012

Response by poster: COD, can I just get that at a regular drugstore or what? Where is it?
posted by pupstocks at 8:01 AM on April 10, 2012

I had serious styes when I was little, which had to be lanced a few times. My excellent doctor had me start washing my eyes regularly with no-tears baby shampoo (not too much or it dries you out; I imagine flushing with water would serve the same purpose). Warm compresses with very dilute boric acid helped alleviate styes which were already forming. Also, make sure you don't wipe your eye with anything that you then use on the other eye. Eg, be careful with face towels, etc.
posted by tavegyl at 8:08 AM on April 10, 2012

Hot compresses! I get styes occasionally, and the only thing that really helps is moist heat. An eye doctor recommended a facecloth soaked in hot water and applied in 15-minute stretches, but those cool off too quickly and also get water all over everything; I have switched to microwaved potatoes and rice socks. When I have a stye I apply a hot compress of some description a couple of times a day, or three if I am feeling especially luxuriant or itchy-eyed. The heat is supposed to encourage the stye to start draining (ew), but it also feels nice and alleviates some of the discomfort.
posted by bewilderbeast at 8:11 AM on April 10, 2012

Yeah - I don't remember what the stuff is called but you'll find in the eye care aisle at the drugstore. Just rub onto your eyelid a couple of times a day. It is an ointment that comes in a small little tube.
posted by COD at 8:12 AM on April 10, 2012

Here you go - it is called Stye. Doh!
posted by COD at 8:14 AM on April 10, 2012

At minimum every morning and night during allergy season I rinse out my eyes with artificial tears on doctor's orders. I also carry a bottle around with me and put them in during the day if I feel itchy or painful. I suggest buying 3-4 bottles (at Wal-Mart they have one for sale that costs less than two dollars), putting one in your car/work stuff, one in your bathroom, and one in your fridge for extra soothing coolness (again, doctor's suggestion there). It washes away any dust/pollen that gets into your eyes, and has no medications or anything so you can't overuse it. I used to use prescription steroidal eye drops (bad for you) and prescription antihistamine eye drops like Pataday because it got so bad, but now it's under control with the artificial tears and occasional use of OTC Zatidor.

Also, if you aren't washing your pillowcase/sheets crazy frequently during allergy season and wearing your hair back or washing it every night, you may be rolling around in allergens as you sleep.
posted by vegartanipla at 8:39 AM on April 10, 2012

My ENT suggested that allergens were causing the swelling in my eyelid by partially blocking my tear duct(s). She also recommended artificial tears, and they work. It's still scary to get up and see that first thing in the morning, though.
posted by halfbuckaroo at 8:42 AM on April 10, 2012 [1 favorite]

Since it is happening on the same eye, I have to ask, is that the side you are sleeping on? Perhaps dry eyes from allergies, plus possible allergy to whatever you use to wash your pillow case, is causing this problem?

Save up, go a month without eating meat, sell your things, whatever you have to do to go to a doctor. It might be nothing or it might be an infection that could spread and cause you to lose your sight. It's worth the monetary sacrifice to find out. If nothing else, you would get immediate relief from the prescription ointment that your doctor would prescribe you. Make an appointment today.
posted by myselfasme at 8:48 AM on April 10, 2012

My mom has super sensitive eyes, and our optometrist recommended that she use these Eye Scrub things. She uses them regardless of whether she's removing eye make up. I find personally that if my eyes are feeling like they are full of tiny, sharp rocks, using these helps alleviate that.

In general, if you are very allergic to the air right now, you should wash your HAIR before you go to bed, too. Your hair, it is full of allergens.
posted by Medieval Maven at 9:18 AM on April 10, 2012

I am dealing with a bout of swollen eyelid right now, and to further the suggestion of hot compresses- my doctor told me to use teabags on the eyelid (re-dipping into the tea once the bag is no longer warm to re-heat it every so often).
posted by banjo_and_the_pork at 9:49 AM on April 10, 2012

This seems like something worth trying to go to an eye doctor for at least once. I have seriously bad allergies that really like to manifest in my eyes. I don't get styes but I do get painfully itchy eyes with a weird sticky discharge. Most of the time it's controllable with OTC Zaditor (I just put a couple of drops in a couple of hours ago), but have had a prescription for Pataday in the past and more recently it got so bad I was on a two-week course of prescription steroid drops.

Your eyes aren't really something to experiment with so if it's as bad and recurring as you say please see a doctor to at least get a diagnosis.
posted by marylynn at 10:00 AM on April 10, 2012

Seconding the ophthalmologist-recommended eyelid scrubs; my doctor recommended these OCuSOFT ones for the mild blepharitis (clogging of the eyelash follicles) I have that sometimes leads to styes. It has helped and I haven't had any styes since I started using them, and I'm pretty terrible about remembering to use them every day.
posted by bedhead at 10:10 AM on April 10, 2012

You want the warm moist compress, which bewilderbeast mentions. Get yourself a microwaveable sinus mask (available at any drugstore) and a washcloth. Put the mask in the microwave for 15 seconds. Increase the time once you get the hang of things. While that is going, get the washcloth wet and wring it out. Use hot water. Lie down, close your eyes, put the hot washcloth on your eyes, and the hot sinus mask on top of that.

This gives you a nice deep heat reservoir, plenty of moisture, and prevents evaporative cooling. You can get a nice 5-10 minutes of heat doing this.

Do not get it too hot. You can really mess up your eyes. So start warmish and work up. You'll get a feeling for it eventually. It should feel very relaxing.

When I have an active sty, I usually do this 3-4 times a day.

For the love of all that is holy, do not apply cold.

And I just noticed that the Dr. Hauschka Cleansing Milk is made from fermented grain extract. Which means it was made with an active bacterial culture. There maybe a link there.
posted by chairface at 10:13 AM on April 10, 2012

When I had a huge stye, I was way too busy to fit in a doctor appointment, but found time to stop into that CVS doc inabox thing. I know my insurance covered it, but I believe it's quite inexpensive anyway. A PA prescribed me antibiotic drops to use a few times a day and it disappeared.
posted by atomicstone at 12:19 PM on April 10, 2012

eyelid scrub cloths might help (you can buy them at most pharmacies). i used them before and after LASEK and they sanitize the eyelids pretty well, i was told.
switch to some kind of soap or bacteria-free product instead of the cleansing milk.
try not sleeping on that side or changing your pillowcase every night.
try using systane artificial tears -- i like the ones that come in little vials without preservatives, so you can use them as often as you like throughout the day. there are also generic ones that are cheaper. this might help unblock your tear duct, if that's what is causing it.
posted by zdravo at 2:33 PM on April 10, 2012

Response by poster: Thanks so much, everyone!
posted by pupstocks at 2:00 PM on April 11, 2012

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