Stye Treatment and Home Remedies

Is There a Home Remedy for a Stye?

Most styes will drain and resolve on their own without the need for medical treatment. Application of a warm compresses or washcloth to the eye for 10-15 minutes, four to six times a day, can be an effective home treatment and speed drainage of the stye, also sometimes spelled sty or called a "hordeolum." This home care will aid in symptom relief for the condition. A stye should not be pressed or squeezed to facilitate drainage, since this can spread or worsen the bacterial infection.

What Is the Treatment for a Stye (Sty)?

If a stye persists for several days, a healthcare professional 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 stye may need a general anesthetic. Antibiotic ointments and/or steroid ointments sometimes are prescribed to treat a stye. Rarely, an oral antibiotic is recommended for persistent or multiple styes. Over-the-counter pain medications may be used to alleviate pain and tenderness in the eyelid that come with the condition. Contact lenses and eye makeup should never be worn during treatment for a stye.

What Is the Prognosis for a Stye?

A stye is harmless in the majority of cases. In most cases, a stye drains on its own within a few days to a week, leading to symptom relief for the patient without prescription medicine. Some people will require medical or surgical treatment of a stye, as with complications described in the following section. A hordeolum does not cause intraocular damage (damage to the eye). Styes often recur, but complications of styes are rare (see below).

Are There Potential Complications Resulting From a Stye?

Complications of a hordeolum 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 stye. A chalazion 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 stye may lead to deformity or disruption of growth of eyelashes. Progression of a stye to a systemic infection (spreading throughout the body) is extremely rare, and only a few instances of such spread have been reported.

Is It Possible to Prevent a Stye?

While it is impossible to completely prevent the development of a stye, good hygienic practices, including proper hand washing, can help prevent all forms of infection, including a stye. Other measures that can help prevent styes and chalazion problems include:

  • never sharing cosmetics or cosmetic eye tools (such as lash curlers or eyelash combs) with others,
  • keeping eye tools clean,
  • discarding old or contaminated eye makeup,
  • keeping all cosmetics clean, and
  • not touching the eye and surrounding areas.

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Bessette, Michael J. "Hordeolum and Stye in Emergency Medicine." Feb. 24, 2010. <>.