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. 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. This helps speed healing and relieve the pain and swelling.

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?
June 03, 2015
References
  1. AskMayoExpert. Hordeolum (stye). Rochester, Minn.: Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research; 2014.
  2. Riordan-Eva P, et al. Lids and lacrimal apparatus. In: Vaughan & Asbury's General Ophthalmology. 18th ed. New York, N.Y.: The McGraw-Hill Companies; 2011. http://www.accessmedicine.com. Accessed March 31, 2015.
  3. What Are Chalazia and Styes? American Academy of Ophthalmology. http://www.geteyesmart.org/eyesmart/diseases/chalazion-stye.cfm. Accessed March 31, 2015.
  4. What you need to know about contact lens hygiene and compliance. American Optometric Association. http://www.aoa.org/x8024.xml. Accessed March 31, 2015.
  5. Chalazion and hordeolum. Merck Manual Professional Edition.  http://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/eye-disorders/eyelid-and-lacrimal-disorders/chalazion-and-hordeolum-stye. Accessed March 31, 2015.
  6. Eye cosmetic safety. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. http://www.fda.gov/Cosmetics/ProductsIngredients/Products/ucm137241.htm. Accessed March 31, 2015.
  7. Lindsley K, et al. Interventions for acute internal hordeolum. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/14651858.CD007742.pub3/abstract. Accessed March 31, 2015.
  8. Wash your hands. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. http://www.cdc.gov/Features/HandWashing. Accessed April 1, 2015.
  9. Using eye makeup. American Academy of Ophthalmology. http://www.geteyesmart.org/eyesmart/living/eye-makeup.cfm. Accessed April 1, 2015.
  10. Chalazion and stye treatment. American Academy of Ophthalmology. http://www.geteyesmart.org/eyesmart/diseases/chalazion-stye/treatment.cfm. Accessed April 1, 2015.
  11. Robertson DM (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. April 18, 2015.