Which Antibiotic Ointment Is Used for a Stye?

Medically Reviewed on 1/5/2022
antibiotic ointment for stye
Antibiotic ointment used to treat a stye includes erythromycin, bacitracin, and tobramycin.

Generally, a stye goes away without any specific treatment.

  • Your doctor may prescribe antibiotic drops or ointments such as erythromycin, bacitracin, and tobramycin.
  • They may prescribe antibiotic pills in severe cases if the stye is very painful or inflamed.
  • Some of the antibiotic pills used to treat a stye include erythromycin, tetracycline, cloxacillin, and dicloxacillin.

Your doctor will prescribe you antibiotics based on the bacteria responsible for the infection. You must take antibiotics as prescribed by the doctor to prevent any ill effects and the development of antibiotic resistance.

Most cases of a stye are managed conservatively by:

  • Applying warm compresses over the affected eyelid for 10 to 15 minutes four to five times a day.
  • Avoiding the urge to touch, squeeze, or pop the stye. Doing so may spread the infection and worsen symptoms.
  • Avoid wearing eye makeup or contact lenses till the eye heals completely.
  • Washing your hands before and after touching your eyes and applying eye drops/ointments.
  • Keeping the eye clean by washing the eyelid with mild soap and water.
  • Taking pain medications or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs to reduce pain and swelling.

If the above treatment including antibiotics does not provide relief, surgical drainage of the stye may be required.

What is a stye?

A stye, also called a hordeolum, is a type of localized infection or inflammation of the eyelid margin. About 90 to 95 percent of all stye cases are caused by the bacteria Staphylococcus aureus.

Depending on the site of inflammation, a stye may be of two types:

  1. External stye or hordeolum: Caused by inflammation of the hair follicles of the eyelashes present on the eyelid margin
  2. Internal stye or hordeolum: Appears on the inner surface of the eyelid (facing the eyeball) and is caused by the infection of the meibomian glands (oil-producing glands that keep the eyelid moist)

What are the risk factors for a stye?

Although a stye can affect anyone of any age and gender, it is seen more commonly in adults than children.

Certain conditions such as diabetes, rosacea, seborrheic dermatitis (dandruff), and blepharitis (chronic inflammation of the eyelids) may increase your risk of having a stye.

Other risk factors include:

  • Not disinfecting contact lenses or wearing them using dirty or unwashed hands
  • Not removing eye makeup before going to bed
  • Touching the eyes with unclean hands
  • Wearing poor-quality or expired makeup products
  • Having high blood cholesterol levels

What are the symptoms of a stye?

A stye may cause varying symptoms such as:

  • Pain and tenderness on the affected eyelid
  • Eyelid swelling and redness
  • Poor tolerance to bright light
  • Foreign body sensation (a feeling like you have something in your eye)
  • Increased tearing from the eye
  • Thick or pus-like eye discharge and crusting
  • Itching or irritation on the affected eyelid

An eye stye is often confused with another condition that affects the eyelid called a chalazion. A stye typically occurs at the edge of the eyelid, whereas a chalazion occurs farther up. A chalazion is generally a larger bump and does not hurt.


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Medically Reviewed on 1/5/2022
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