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An eye infection is usually found in the root of an eyelash, on the margin of the eye. It is in fact a small boil which develops on one of the oil glands on the margin of the eyelid. These glands work to keep the eyelashes moist and lubricated.

Styes are irritating and unsightly and develop a white head after a period of a few days. This will exude pus. The eye itself is not infected so usually no permanent injury occurs.

Staphylococci are the organisms which usually cause the infection. This ailment can start for no apparent reason.


If you have an eye infection, initially the margin of the eye is painful and is tender to the touch. The infected site then turns red as the Stye develops. Sometimes the eye starts to weep and is sensitive to light (photophobia). Relief is felt when the Stye finally erupts and discharges pus.


As with all conditions your Doctor should be consulted to diagnose and treat your eye infection. Ask your Doctor about the latest advice on this ailment. A persistent lump on the eyelid may be a cyst. This may have to be removed by minor surgery.

Diet tips

A healthy diet is best understood by the “Healthy Eating Pyramid”. In the bottom section of the pyramid are those foods which should be the greatest proportion of the diet, including wholegrains, breads, pasta, legumes (beans, peas, lentils), fresh fruit and vegetables. The middle section of the pyramid includes those foods which should be eaten in moderate amounts including dairy products, lean meats and fish. At the top of the pyramid are those foods which should be either avoided or eaten very occasionally including sugar, highly processed foods, foods which are high in saturated fats (fried foods, pastries, fast food etc.), ice cream, sweets and lollies.

A healthy diet also requires a variety of foods, so try to avoid eating the same diet by including different fruits, vegetables, seeds, nuts, legumes (beans, peas, lentils etc) and pulses from week to week. This way your body gets a range of vitamins, minerals and other nutrients which are important for good health.

Drink alcoholic beverages only in moderation (no more than the equivalent of 1 to 2 glasses of wine per day) and try to have around 6 to 8 glasses of pure water each day.


Supplements may only be of value if dietary intake is inadequate. In cases of low immune function, an oversupply of harmful molecules (free radicals) may be present. Therefore Antioxidants such as vitamins A, C, E, zinc, grape seed extract, coenzyme Q10 and
selenium help to reduce the number of free radicals in the body and boost the body’s resistance to infection.

Bioflavonoids are nutrients which help to reduce inflammation and improve the health of the tissue surrounding the eye.

Chamomile (Matricaria chamomilla) is a herb with a long history of use as an anti-inflammatory agent. A warm (not hot) chamomile tea bag placed over the eye for five minutes may help to relieve the pain and assist in drawing the Stye to a head. Steep the bag in hot water first and allow the tea to cool. This tea can now be used as a soothing eye-bath to help reduce redness and inflammation of the eye.

Astragalus (Astragalus membranaceus) is a herb with a long history of traditional use in Chinese herbal medicine. Clinical trials have shown Astragalus to have immune enhancing properties. This herb may be especially beneficial in cases of chronic low immunity and repeated infections.

Ask Calanna

Ask your Pharmacist for advice.

  • Follow the Diet tips.
  • Use a medicated eye cream or drops. Ask your Pharmacist for advice.
  • Usually the health management includes bathing the Stye with a mild antiseptic, in warm, rather than hot water. A hot compress may help bring the stye to a head and discharge the infection a little sooner. Use every two hours for maximum effect.
  • If the diet is inadequate consider some supplements.
  • Ask your Pharmacist about using an eyebath. These are small plastic containers used to bathe the eye with a simple sterile saline solution. Herbs such as calendula, eyebright and golden seal can be added to warm water and used to bathe the affected area. Remember many herbal extracts are dissolved in alcohol. All alcohol must be evaporated from the herbal remedy by placing it in boiling water for a few minutes and allowing it to cool. Herbal infusions may also be used in an eyebath.

DISCLAIMER: This information is an educational aid only. It is not intended to replace medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, pharmacist, nurse or naturopath before following any medical regimen to see whether it is safe and effective for you.