- A sty is a small abscess of the glands in the eyelids (near the root of an eyelash) which can occur externally and internally. This abscess is generally a localized staphylococcal infection and you may get more than one sty at a time or several in succession.
- Sties respond well to treatment, but can recur. If untreated, sties can eventually lead to cellulitis of the eyelids, a more serious condition. They are generally not contagious or a sign of cancer.
SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS
- Redness, swelling, and pain in a localized area of the eye.
- An external sty may be noted when there is a tender red nodule present below the lid margin; an internal sty may not have a visible nodule.
- Slightly blurred vision.
DIAGNOSIS AND TREATMENT
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
you are a registered University
of Illinois student and you have questions or concerns,
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: http://www.mckinley.illinois.edu
© The Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois, 2007.
<< return to health information index