Sty (cont.)

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What is the treatment for a sty? Is there a home remedy for a sty?

Most styes will drain and resolve on their own without the need for medical treatment. Application of a warm compress or warm washcloth to the affected area for 10-15 minutes, four to six times a day, can be an effective home remedy and speed rupture of the sty. This will aid in the relief of symptoms. A sty should not be pressed or squeezed to facilitate drainage, since this can spread or worsen the infection. If a sty persists for several days, a doctor may lance (drain) the infection under local anesthesia in his or her office. Babies or children who require surgical drainage of a sty may need a general anesthetic. Antibiotic ointments and/or steroid ointments sometimes are prescribed to treat a sty. Rarely, systemic (oral) antibiotics are recommended for persistent or multiple styes. Over-the-counter pain medications may be used to alleviate pain and tenderness. Contact lenses and eye makeup should never be worn during treatment for a sty.

What is the prognosis (outcome) of a sty?

A sty is harmless in the majority of cases. In most cases, a sty ruptures on its own within a few days to a week, leading to relief from symptoms. Some people will require medical or surgical treatment of a sty, as with complications described in the following section. A sty does not cause intraocular damage (damage to the eye). Styes often recur, but complications of styes are rare (see below).

Are there any potential complications resulting from a sty?

Complications of a sty are rare. The infection may spread to other eyelash follicles, leading to multiple styes. A chalazion (a form of scarring of the glands in the eyelid that may include the formation of cysts) is the most common complication that develops from a sty. Chalazia can be large enough to deform the cornea of the eye and interfere with vision, and they may cause a cosmetic problem. Other potential complications include spreading of the infection to the eyelids (blepharitis) or other tissues of the eye area (periorbital or orbital cellulitis), and improper drainage of a sty may lead to deformity or disruption of growth of eyelashes. Progression of a sty to a systemic infection (spreading throughout the body) is extremely rare, and only a few instances of such spread have been reported.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 1/30/2013

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