Red Eyelids

Eye Styes and Red Eyelids

            Red eyelids are never a good sign, and when they are accompanied by swelling it could indicate that there is a stye in the eye.  The good news is that it is a temporary condition that can easily be treated at home.


            The eyelids are thin blankets of skin that serve to protect the eyeball.  To further protect the eyes, a line of hair follicles are present on both the upper and the lower eyelid.  Eyelashes grow to keep foreign obstacles such as dust and environmental debris as well as to keep sweat from encroaching into the eye.  Blinking of the eyelids occurs naturally in order to keep the aqueous fluid on the eyeball evenly distributed.  Even during sleep, the eyelids work to keep the eyeballs moistened.

            Styes are caused from bacteria that find their way into the hair follicles of the eyelash.  Oil from the sebaceous glands at the surface of the skin can seep into the follicle, carrying with it debris and skin cells; along with these, bacteria.   The follicle can become inflamed; becoming a small, hard lump on the surface of the skin.  Red eyelids, itching, discomfort and seepage from the infected follicle can be symptoms of the stye.


            Although they can be painful, treating the stye is a simple process.  The bacterium that is at the root of the problem is highly transferrable, so it is important to remember to keep the hands away from the eyes as much as possible.  The stye will develop into a pimple like eruption, filling with clear, watery pus and eventually coming to a head.  The process can be helped along by applying a cotton ball or a washcloth that has been soaked in warm water to the affected area several times each day.  The moist heat will bring the stye to a head so that it can drain and begin to heal.  The eruption should never be squeezed, as this can cause the infection to spread.

            Teabags that have been soaked in hot water then cooled until slightly warm also provide relief to the eye in which a stye has developed.  Tannin is an ingredient within tea that is helpful in reducing swelling, and can be used with no fear of irritation to the eye.  The moist warmth of the teabag is also beneficial in causing the infection to come to a head.  As the swelling decreases, the inflammation causing the red eyelids will also decrease.   Over the counter medications can be purchased to relieve the itching and keep the area clean.  These will not hasten healing, but will make the process more bearable.  If persistent infection continues, a doctor can prescribe an antibiotic cream after confirming the presence of the stye.

            The healing process goes more quickly if eye makeup use is discontinued while the style is actively inflamed.  Contact lenses can also aggravate the condition, and can create additional problems if the eyes are inadvertently rubbed.

            Prevention is the best method of dealing with styles and the red eyelids they create, especially for those individuals that are prone to developing the infections.  Using a washcloth to clean around the eyelid areas will keep the sebaceous oil glands clear and also avoid bacteria from entering the follicles.  Avoid sharing eye makeup, even between family members.  Also, replace eye makeup every six months or so to eliminate the possibility of bacteria breeding.  If a family member develops a stye, separate washcloths and towels will need to be used to keep the infection from spreading.

            Even though styes can be uncomfortable as well as unsightly, they are easy to treat and generally are gone within a week when treated properly.