What is pink eye and styes?

Conjunctivitis is the medical name for pink eye. It can cause swelling, itching, burning, discharge and redness of the protective membrane (conjunctiva) that lines the eyelids and covers exposed areas of the white of the eye (sclera).

Causes include:

  • Bacterial or viral infection
  • Allergies
  • Substances that cause irritation
  • Contact lens products, eye drops, or eye ointments

Pink eye usually does not affect vision. Infectious pink eye can easily spread from one person to another. The infection will clear in most cases without medical care, but bacterial pink eye needs treatment with antibiotic eye drops or ointment.

A stye (hordeolum) is a red, painful lump usually filled with puss (may look like a boil or a pimple) near the edge of your eyelid. A stye most commonly forms on the outside of your eyelid, but sometimes a stye can form on the inner part of your eyelid. It is caused by a bacterial infection in the lid usually from rubbing the eye too hard or from inflammation of the lid such as might occur with conjunctivitis (pink eye). Some risk factors are include changing your contact lenses without thoroughly washing your hands first, failure to disinfect your contact lenses before putting them in, leaving makeup on overnight, and using old or expired cosmetics.

What to expect?

The Little Clinic can help distinguish the cause of the pink eye and make certain it is not something more serious such as a corneal abrasion (scratch of the eye) or ulcer. We  can even prescribe the appropriate medication if indicated.

In most cases, a sty will disappear on its own in a few days to a week. In the meantime, you may be able to relieve the pain or discomfort of a sty by applying a warm washcloth to your eyelid several times a day.

If the sty does not go away on its own or worsens, The Little Clinic can prescribe antibiotic eye drops, an antibiotic ointment to put on the eyelid, or on occasion for more severe styes – an oral antibiotic. We may also refer you to an eye doctor if surgery is needed.