( By Dr. H.K.Bakhru )

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The term stye refers to a small painful boil, an inflammed hair follicle or an infection of a seabeceous gland in the edge of the eyelid. The infecting organism is usually a staphylococcus. This disease occurs due to debilitated condition of the system. Some children seem more prone to these infections than others.


A stye gives rise to a throbbing pain which can go out of proportions. It can be felt for a day or two even before the stye is visible. It is accompanied by redness, swelling and oedema of the lid and conjunctiva. Sometimes, the infection disappears quickly, without forming into a red swelling. But other styes worsen rapidly until the eyelid swells up. In the final stages, the stye will burst and discharge pus, causing the eyelids to stick together during the night in severe cases.


Stye results from an infection of the hair follicles of the eyelid which leads to blockage of the hair follicles. It may also result from blocking of the gland by dirt or due to error of refraction, recurrent styes occur because the infection is spread from one hair shaft to another often by the chld rubbing it to relieve itching.

The real cause of styes is the toxic condition of the child’s system brought about by wrong eating habits, especially consumption of foods such as white bread, refined cereals, boiled potatoes, puddings, pies, pastries and confetionery. The disease makes its appearance when the child is in a run-down condition and below par. Eye strain is also a subsidiary factor in the onset of styes.


The stye usually disappears on its own in two or three days. The progress of the condition can be curtailed by pulling the eyelash at the site of the inflammation. Periodic application of moist warm compresses brings the pus out enabling its easy drainage. Sometimes it has to be evacuated by an incision with a knife. As stye can spread from an infected child to other members of the family, it is essential that the child-patient is given a separate face flannel and towel at least while his stye is at the discharging stage, and he should be discouraged from scratching.

To be effective, the treatment for the stye should be constitutional. A thorough cleansing of the system and adoption of the natural laws in diet and general living alone can help eliminate stye. To begin with , the child-patient should be placed on an exclusive diet of fresh fruits for two or three days. In this regimen, he should be given three meals a day of fresh juicy fruits such as orange, apple, pineapple, pear, pech and papaya. If possible, warm-water enema should be given daily during this period to cleanse the bowels.

Thereafter, he may be allowed to gradually embark upon a well- balanced diet according to his age. The emphasis should be on whole grain cereals, fresh fruits and raw or lightly-cooked vegetables.

The patient should avoid an excessive intake of starchy and sugary foods,meat and other protein and fatty foods, strong tea and coffee, too much salt, condiments and sauces.

Certain home remedies have been found beneficial in the treatment of styes. The most important of these is the use of clove (laung). This spice should be rubbed in water and applied over the stye. This will give relief. Another useful application is red lead (sindoor). About 1.25 decigrams of this substance should be moistened with a few drops of water and applied over the styes. The stone of a date rubbed with water can also be applied over styes with beneficial results.

The patient should be encouraged to adopt various methods of relaxing and strengthening the eyes. These include eye exercises like movng the eyes gently up and down, from side to side and in a circle, clock-wise and anti-clockwise, rotating the neck in circles and semi-circles and briskly moving the shoulders in clockwise and anti-clockwise direction.

The patient should also resort to palming which is beneficial in removing strain and relaxing the eyes and its surroundings tissues. The procedure is as follows : Sit comfortably in an arm chair or on a settee relax with your eyes closed. Cover your eyes with your palms, right palm over the right eye and the left over the left eye. Do not, however, press down the eyes. With your eyes closed thus, try to imagine blackness, which grows blacker. Palming reduces strain and relaxes the eyes and its surrounding tissues.

Styes can be prevented by good hygeine, proper diet and by adopting various methods for relaxing and strengthening the eyes, as outlined above.

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