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Sty (Hordeolum)

GENERAL INFORMATIONimage of human eye with a sty


An examination of the eye generally confirms this infection.

Many sties will drain on their own, but to facilitate the drainage of the abscess and reduce pain, a folded clean cloth can be used as a compress. The compress should be dipped in warm water, wrung out until just a little dripping remains, and applied to the eye. Dip the folded cloth repeatedly to keep the compress wet and warm. Continue the application of the compresses for 10-15 minutes. Using a clean cloth each time, apply the warm compresses four times a day for three to four days.

Drug therapy can be prescribed by your health care provider. Do not use any medicine (including over-the-counter remedies) without checking with your health care provider. Generally, drug therapy includes antibiotic eye drops/ointment and, occasionally, an antibiotic taken by mouth. Carefully follow the directions prescribed by your health care provider.

If a sty does not drain spontaneously with compress application, visit your health care provider for assistance. Do not attempt to squeeze or drain the sty yourself. This will spread the infection and may cause cellulitis. Have your eye rechecked if symptoms persist after several days of treatment.

The Merck Manual of Diagnosis and Therapy, 17th Edition, 1999

If you are a registered University of Illinois student and you have questions or concerns,
or need to make an appointment, please call: Dial-A-Nurse at 333-2700


If you are concerned about any difference in your treatment plan and the information in this handout,

you are advised to contact your health care provider.


Visit the McKinley Health Center Web site at:

HEd. II-069

The Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois, 2007.



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