On the eyelid margin, just behind the eyelashes, resides a row of small glands in the upper and lower eyelid. There are approximately twenty-five glands in both the upper and lower eyelid. They are elongated, running vertically in the eyelid and opening on the eyelid margin. These Meibomian glands secrete a fatty substance that covers the eye every time we blink. Obstructions in the secretions are quite common and leads to many problems.
A total obstruction of the gland opening leads to a local swelling and inflammation. This redness and tenderness is due to the secretions leaking from the gland into the surrounding eyelid and is called a chalazion. The eyelid may swell extensively initially, but the tender swelling will become more localized within a few days. If you pull the eyelid away you might see a local swelling on the inside.
The stye will disappear spontaneously sometimes, but an infection can also occur with possible drainage on the inside of the eyelid. Warm compresses will alleviate the initial discomfort, and sometimes the gland can be gently expressed with pressure over the local swelling. The eyelid secretions can be cleaned with diluted baby shampoo in order to help clean the fatty occlusion. Dilute the baby shampoo about four times with luke warm water. Dip an earbud in the solution and clean the edges of the eyelids with the earbud by pulling the eyelid slightly away from the eyeball. Some oral antibiotics have additional antilipoprotein actions to help promote the secretion of the glands and prevent future obstruction and styes. The occurrence of styes can be recurrent sometimes, especially so in individuals with skin problems like acne rosacea. If the swelling persist in needs to be drained. This is done with a small incision on the inside of the eyelid. The gland is cleaned and will heal without any scarring.
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