A sty is a painful, red bump which can be found at the base of an eyelash, under or inside the eyelid. The condition is caused by an infection of the lubricating glands, which develops from bacteria that is trapped in the gland. Bacteria is usually flushed out by natural eye lubrication; But the process can be interrupted, when the gland becomes blocked. A sty can usually be resolved with repeated application of warm compresses. In special cases, resolution will require antibiotic eye drops or a special surgical procedure called lancing. Instructions for lancing a sty are included in the following section.
- Skill level:
Things you need
- Alcohol or Betadine
- Sterile gauze
- Small clamp
- Hypodermic needle
- Chux pad
- Eye patch
- Medical tape
- Antibiotic eye drops
Place the Chux pad over the patient's face so that their eye is visible and their nose and mouth are uncovered for normal breathing.
Squeeze a small amount of alcohol or Betadine onto a sterile piece of gauze. Gently clean the sty and surrounding area with the gauze. Exercise caution, to avoid getting any in the patient's eye.
Fill the hypodermic needle with lidocaine. Inject a small amount of lidocaine into the patient's eyelid next to the sty. Inject a small amount of solution on all four edges of the sty to ensure that the patient's eyelid is sufficiently numb. Wait approximately 5 to 10 minutes, to allow the medication time to take effect.
Gently clamp the eyelid around the sty or to the side of the sty. Hold the clamp in your non-dominant hand to stabilise the eyelid during the procedure.
Cut a small incision over the white or yellow head of the sty which indicates the presence of the clogged gland. Put the scalpel down and use sterile pieces of gauze to absorb all material that is released from the sty through the small incision. If swelling is still present after all of the oozing material has been released, exert a small amount of pressure on all four sides of the sty to complete the draining process.
Gently release the clamp.
Squeeze a small amount of alcohol or Betadine onto a sterile piece of gauze. Gently clean the area of the sty and the incision. Do not push gauze into the incision.
Place the patch over the patient's eye and secure the patch with tape on the top, bottom and both sides of the patch. Instruct the patient to keep the patch in place for 2 to 3 hours.
Provide the patient with a prescription for an antibiotic eye drops. The eye drops should be self-administered by the patient for a period of 5 days.
Tips and warnings
- Lancing a sty is the last possible resolution method that should be considered. This procedure should only be conducted by a trained physician or ophthalmologist. Do not attempt to lance a sty at home, as this will raise the potential of infection and permanent eye damage.
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