Sty Treatment

Doctor's View on Sty Treatment

Comment by Charles P. Davis, MD, PhD

What is a sty?

A sty (also spelled stye and termed a hordeolum) is a localized infection of a gland or hair follicle on an eyelid that is tender and reddish. About 95% of stys are caused by bacteria, mainly Staphylococcus aureus.

Sty treatment

The majority of stys can be treated without medical intervention. Most stys either resolve spontaneously or resolve with simple home treatment by applying a warm compress or washcloth to the sty for about 10 to 15 minutes three or four times a day. This causes the sty to drain and resolve. A few stys may not resolve in a few days; for these, a doctor may need to lance (drain by making a small incision) the sty under local anesthesia. Infants and children may require a general anesthetic. Some clinicians also use antibiotic-containing eyedrops or gels and/or steroid eye ointments. Systemic antibiotics are rarely required. Over-the-counter (OTC) pain medicines help control the discomfort.

Other home remedies such as pulling out eyelashes or rubbing the eyelid with a gold ring and other methods are reported but there is no consensus in the medical literature that suggests these methods are effective.

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Medically reviewed by William Baer, MD; Board Certified Ophthalmology


"Eyelid lesions"