Stye removal: Surgery and other treatment methods
When does a stye require surgery? If a stye causes overwhelming pain, interrupts vision or develops into a serious infection, it may need to be surgically removed. An eye doctor will be able to determine the best treatment plan for each individual case.
It is important to avoid squeezing or popping a stye to remove it, but a number of home treatments can help safely speed up the healing process.
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If your condition is severe enough, a doctor may need to surgically remove the stye. Stye surgery may be required for the following reasons:
If the stye is obstructing vision
If the stye causes severe and/or constant pain
If the infection becomes serious
If treating it at home has not helped
Stye surgery involves draining the abscess, typically with a needle or other surgical instrument. Local anesthesia is typically administered before the draining takes place.
Healing and recovery after stye surgery may involve some pain and a bruised eye for a week or two. Acetaminophen may be taken following surgery, for as long as needed to help with pain; other pain medications can cause additional bruising during recovery.
You may also be prescribed antibiotics for the week following the procedure to ensure all the infection is taken care of.
Non-surgical stye removal
A stye can be removed without surgery when the stye is mild and is not causing problems for vision. Mild styes can often be “removed” or treated at home or with a quick visit to the eye doctor.
There are several home remedies to help relieve the pain and appearance of stye, and some can even encourage drainage and removal. Some home remedies to help remove a stye include the following:
Warm compress: Applying a warm compress to the affected area can assist in bringing the pus in a stye to the surface, while also providing relief from pain and inflammation.
One approach for using a warm compress is with a warm washcloth. Wet a clean washcloth with warm (never hot) water and ring out excess water. Lay the washcloth over your eyes for 5-10 minutes and repeat as needed to treat the condition.
A warm tea bag can also be used as a warm compress for styes. Steep a tea bag in a cup of boiling water for a few minutes and let it cool before applying to eyes for 5-10 minutes, the same way you would apply a warm washcloth. Use one tea bag per eye. Black tea has been found to work best for this technique because of its anti-inflammatory properties.
Apply subtle pressure: Subtle pressure can help stimulate a stye and encourage the pus to rise to the surface for drainage. Use clean hands to gently massage the area around the stye. If you feel any discomfort, stop massaging. Keep the area clean before, during and after this technique — you can use a mild, eye-safe solution or soap to do so.
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Some styes may require medical treatment in addition to home remedies. An eye doctor may prescribe steroid or antibiotic eye drops, pills or ointment. A steroid injection may also be administered to reduce the swelling of a stye.
Keep it clean
Regardless of home or professional treatment, a stye and the area surrounding it should be kept as clean as possible. Use a mild soap or saline solution to clean the area. Avoid popping, squeezing or picking at a stye, as this can cause further irritation and may allow the infection to spread to other parts of your eye.
Most styes heal and disappear on their own, but additional treatment to remove a stye, such as those outlined above, can help speed up the process.
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Page published in November 2020
Page updated in March 2021