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Sty (Stye)

Stye Overview

A stye (or sty) is an acute infection of the secretory glands of the eyelids.

Frequently, bacteria can enter and infect an eyelid oil gland, which are present in both the upper and lower eyelids, causing inflammation, pain, and redness of the eyelid, and even redness of the surrounding eyelid and cheek tissue. The medical term for stye is hordeolum.

The lump can point externally (outward) or internally (inward). These conditions are medically known respectively as an external hordeolum and internal hordeolum. Frequently, the lump appears with a visible whitish or yellowish spot that looks much like a large pimple. Usually, one obvious area of swelling is apparent on one lid, but many styes can appear on one or both eyelids simultaneously.

The lump frequently disappears by itself when the blockage of the gland opening is relieved. Furthermore, the infection often goes away when the pus is drained from the stye.

What Are Stye Causes and Risk Factors?

Styes are usually caused by infections of the oil glands in the eyelid. Very frequently, they are infected by bacteria, most commonly Staphylococcus bacteria.

Seborrhea (excessive oily discharge from the glands) may increase the likelihood of developing one of these infections. Certain other factors can contribute to the infection of the glands:

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 5/10/2016

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Patient Comments & Reviews

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Sty - Treatment

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Is There a Home Remedy for a Sty (Stye)?

What is the treatment 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 drainage of the sty, also sometimes spelled stye. 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 drain the infection with a minor procedure 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.


Read What Your Physician is Reading on Medscape

Hordeolum and Stye »

A hordeolum (ie, stye) is a localized infection or inflammation of the eyelid margin involving hair follicles of the eyelashes (ie, external hordeolum) or meibomian glands (ie, internal hordeolum).

Read More on Medscape Reference »


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