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General characteristics

General characteristics

A stye (also spelled 'sty' in America, medical term 'hordeolum') is an infection of an oil secreting pore in around the edges of the eyelids (near where the eyelashes emerge from) and forms a reddened and sore pimple like bump. They can form on the inside or outside of the eyelid and upper or lower eyelids and usually resolve on their own within a few days or so. The bacteria that causes the stye, a strain of staphylococcus, live on and around the eyelids. When an oil duct becomes blocked for whatever reason the bacteria may proliferate and cause infection and inflammation.

The stye usually begins with tenderness at the base of a clump of eyelashes and goes on to form a red, hot painful lump that soon forms a white pimple like head and discharges after a few days. Occasionally it may prove more stubborn to resolve and need a bit of extra help, especially if pain in the actual eye or visual disturbances occur.  Styes are quite common and most people experience at

Healing should focus on containing and healing the infection by encouraging the stye to discharge and to soothe the pain with appropriate herbs and other natural agents. Raise the health of the body generally by eating plenty of good fresh foods and avoiding processed and sugary junk type foods.

Diet and lifestyle

Diet and lifestyle

Increase your intake of foods rich in omega oils and essential fatty acids such as seeds, whole grains, nuts and wild caught (never farmed) oily fish.

A diet rich in foods containing anti-oxidants (especially the carotenoids) is universally excepted as being important for healthy eyes. Anti-oxidants are present in abundance in foods such as fresh fruit and vegetables (especially the orange, yellow, dark green and red varieties) and also in free range eggs and dairy produce.

Useful herbs

Useful herbs

Eyebright has both antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties and makes a useful eyewash. Make a strong tea using a heaped teaspoon of the herb, stand for 10 minutes or until cool and apply to the eye with an eye-bath or by dropping it in using a piece of cotton wool or similar. Keep the tea in the fridge and continue the treatment every few hours or so for several days.

Other useful herbs that can be used in the same way as above include marigold, chamomile, raspberry leaf, elderflowers, plantain leaves or red clover.

Dissolve a pinch (about 1/4 of a teaspoon of turmeric powder in a little warm water and apply to the eye in an eye-bath or similar. Use the whole liquid in one go, swishing it thoroughly around the eyelids. It will quickly bring the stye to a head and allow it to discharge and heal rapidly.

If the stye is stubborn to treat then consider a pinch of cayenne (chilli) powder in a little water or added to other eye washes as this will help to speed up healing by improving blood and circulation generally. It will sting but will not harm the eye in any way.

Simmer a tablespoon of crushed nasturtium seeds in a cup of water and apply as a warm poultice to bring the stye to a head quickly and help kill infection.

Natural healing

Natural healing

Lemon juice has a remarkably healing effect on all the structures of the eye (and even eyesight itself). Drop a few drops of fresh lemon juice into the eye several times a day to help clear the infection and inflammation.

Dip a cotton bud (or 'Q Tip') into some hot boiled water and apply gentle pressure to the stye, the heat and pressure will encourage the stye to open and discharge if it needs help to do so. You can dip the bud into a hot herbal such as eyebright, chamomile or marigold to gain the added benefits of the herb used.

Dip a cotton bud (or 'Q Tip') into a little warm castor oil and rub along the eyelids to help reduce the congestion and inflammation quickly.

An old tried and tested remedy is to rub something gold (often a wedding ring) along the stye before going to bed. The stye may well be gone in the morning!

Try rubbing a piece of raw potato over the stye.

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