Our bodies are full of biological processes that remain a mystery to laymen, and even scientists. Understanding every part of your body, every organism that co-exists with you, and every function it all serves is next to impossible. There are even bacteria that coexist with many people that don’t generally cause harm, but that can cause problems if certain conditions are met. One example of this is the bacteria Staphylococcus aureus, which is present in about 20-30% of the total human population; chances are very good that you or someone you know has it. Normally the bacteria is harmless, but every once and awhile it can affect your body; one of the effects it can have is what we’re talking about today, styes.

Styes are red bumps that appear around the eyelid; they can appear on the inside or outside of the eyelid. The first signs will be swelling and tenderness around the eyelid, accompanied by redness; afterward, a small bump will develop, with a yellow spot of pus at the centre. You’ll likely experience a bit of tenderness, pain, or swelling along with it. You might also see a lump forming around the stye. For the most part, they’re caused by the above-mentioned bacteria infecting an oil gland around the eyelid.

The bacteria that causes styes is infectious; that’s why so many people have it! That means you should avoid touching your stye then touching someone else; you should especially avoid touching near their eyes if you have a style, and definitely avoid touching your stye to their eye (what were you thinking?). Don’t share cosmetic products, don’t share pillowcases – keep the stye to yourself. You shouldn’t pop your stye.

They say time heals all wounds, and while that’s clearly not true at all (you should see a doctor for many wounds), time does rid you of some bacterial infections, styes included. To help your stye heal faster, apply a warm compress to the stye a few times a day for 10+ minutes. Make sure the compress is clean, of course, as improper hygiene is one of the leading causes of styes. To avoid styes in the future, then, you should always be careful to wash your hands before touching anywhere near your eye.

Styes are generally harmless, other than the mild irritation they’re likely to cause. That said, there can be some rare complications that mean you need to get an eye exam immediately. Should you experience blurred vision as a result of a stye, it’s best to get it checked out. Should a stye remain for more than two weeks, it’s another sign that you might need intervention. The most common serious problem that accompanies styes are caused by chalazia. These are swollen oil glands that are not bacterial in nature; however, some may be persistent and cause corneal irritation, and thus need surgical removal. There are other rare complications that can occur as a result of styes, but for the most part, they’re harmless; wait them out, don’t infect others, and you should be fine!