Diagnosis

Your doctor will usually diagnose a sty just by looking at your eyelid. Your doctor may use a light and a magnifying device to examine your eyelid.

Treatment

In most cases, a sty doesn't require specific treatment, but using warm compresses can hasten the healing. A sty typically goes away on its own. Recurrences are common.

For a sty that persists, your doctor may recommend treatments, such as:

  • Antibiotics. Your doctor may prescribe antibiotic eyedrops or a topical antibiotic cream to apply to your eyelid. If your eyelid infection persists or spreads beyond your eyelid, your doctor may recommend antibiotics in tablet or pill form.
  • Surgery to relieve pressure. If your sty doesn't clear up, your doctor may make a small cut in it to drain the pus.

Lifestyle and home remedies

Until your sty goes away on its own, try to:

  • Leave the sty alone. Don't try to pop the sty or squeeze the pus from a sty. Doing so can cause the infection to spread.
  • Clean your eyelid. Gently wash the affected eyelid with mild soap and water.
  • Place a warm washcloth over your closed eye. To relieve pain, run warm water over a clean washcloth. Wring out the washcloth and place it over your closed eye. Re-wet the washcloth when it loses heat. Continue this for 5 to 10 minutes. Then gently massage the eyelid. Repeating this two to three times a day may encourage the sty to drain on its own.
  • Keep your eye clean. Don't wear eye makeup until the sty has healed.
  • Go without contacts lenses. Contact lenses can be contaminated with bacteria associated with a sty. If you wear contacts, try to go without them until your sty goes away.

Preparing for your appointment

Start by seeing your family doctor or a general practitioner if your sty is painful or doesn't start to get better in two days. In some cases, your doctor may refer you to a specialist who treats eye diseases and conditions (ophthalmologist).

Because appointments can be brief, it's a good idea to be prepared for your appointment. Here's some information to help you get ready.

What you can do

  • List any symptoms you're experiencing, including those that seem unrelated to the sty.
  • List key personal information you feel may be important for your doctor to know.
  • Make a list of all medications, vitamins and supplements that you're taking.
  • List questions to ask your doctor.

Your time with your doctor is limited, so preparing a list of questions can help you make the most of your time together. For a sty, some basic questions to ask your doctor include:

  • What is the likely cause of my sty?
  • When can I expect my sty to go away?
  • Is this contagious?
  • What kinds of tests do I need?
  • Are there any treatments for my sty?
  • What are the benefits and risks of these treatments?
  • What can I do to prevent future sties?
  • Can I continue wearing contact lenses?
  • Is there a generic alternative to the medicine you're prescribing me?
  • Do you have any brochures or other printed material that I can take with me?
  • What websites do you recommend?
  • Do I need a follow-up visit?
July 15, 2020
  1. Yanoff M, et al., eds. Benign eyelid lesions. In: Ophthalmology. 5th ed. Elsevier; 2019. https://www.clinicalkey.com. Accessed April 28, 2020.
  2. Chalazion and hordeolum. Merck Manual Professional Edition. https://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/eye-disorders/eyelid-and-lacrimal-disorders/chalazion-and-hordeolum-stye. Accessed April 27, 2020.
  3. Fowler GC, et al., eds. Chalazion and hordeolum. In: Pfenninger and Fowler's Procedures for Primary Care. 4th ed. Elsevier; 2020. https://www.clinicalkey.com. Accessed April 28, 2020.
  4. Ghosh C, et al. Eyelid lesions. https://www.uptodate.com/contents/search. Accessed April 28, 2020.
  5. How to use cosmetics safely around your eyes. American Academy of Ophthalmology. https://www.aao.org/eye-health/tips-prevention/eye-makeup. Accessed April 28, 2020.
  6. What you need to know about contact lens hygiene and compliance. American Optometric Association. https://www.aoa.org/patients-and-public/caring-for-your-vision/contact-lenses/what-you-need-to-know-about-contact-lens-hygiene-and-compliance. Accessed April 28, 2020.
  7. Chalazia and stye treatment. American Academy of Ophthalmology. https://www.aao.org/eye-health/diseases/chalazion-stye-treatment. Accessed April 28, 2020.
  8. Softing Hataye AL (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic. June 28, 2020.

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