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Editor-In-Chief: C. Michael Gibson, M.S., M.D. [1]; Associate Editor(s)-in-Chief: Jesus Rosario Hernandez, M.D. [2]; Faizan Sheraz, M.D. [3]

Synonyms and keywords: Hordeolum


A stye (also known as a hordeolum) is a painful infection of the sebaceous glands at the base of the eyelashes on, inside, or under the eyelid.[1]. The infection may be internal or external. In many cases, a hordeolum may resolve without treatment; however, the inflammation may spread to other ocular glands or recur. [2]


A stye is usually caused by Staphylococcus aureus.[3] They can be triggered by stress, poor nutrition or lack of sleep.[4] A stye may be secondary to blepharitis.

Differential Diagnosis

A stye must be differentiated from:[5]

Risk Factors

Common risk factors in the development of hordeola are:[6]

Epidemiology & Demographics

Styes are particularly common in infants, though they may occur at any age.[3]


History and Symptoms

The first signs are tenderness and redness in the affected area. Symptoms of a stye include:

  • Swelling
  • Watering of the eye
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Discomfort during blinking

Physical examination


  • A localized and tender area with a pointing eruption may be seen in the affected area.[7]
  • A yellowish bump may be noted.

Lymph Nodes




Medical Therapy

Most cases of hordeolum resolve without treatment. Supportive therapy for hordeolum consists of warm compresses. Antimicrobial ophthalmic ointments may be administered[3].

  • 1. External hordeolum, for a single lesion
  • Preferred regimen: Supportive therapy is sufficient. Application of warm compresses 4-6 times/day.
  • Note: Antibiotic therapy is questionable value for a single lesion and often not indicated.
  • 2. External hordeolum, for multiple/recurrent lesions
  • 3. Internal hordeolum
  • Preferred regimen: Warm compresses 4-6 times/day in conjugation with systemic antistaphylococcal antibiotics
  • Note: If the lesion do not respond to this regimen, incision and drainage are indicated.


  1. Eyelid lumps Retrieved March 19 2007
  2. Lindsley K, Nichols JJ, Dickersin K (2013). "Interventions for acute internal hordeolum". Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 4: CD007742. doi:10.1002/14651858.CD007742.pub3. PMC 4261920. PMID 23633345.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 Deibel JP, Cowling K (2013). "Ocular inflammation and infection". Emerg Med Clin North Am. 31 (2): 387–97. doi:10.1016/j.emc.2013.01.006. PMID 23601478.
  4. "VisionWeb".
  5. "Stye".
  6. "Stye".
  7. "Stye".
  8. "Stye".
  9. 9.0 9.1 "Dermatology Atlas".
  10. "Managing Eye Infections in Older Adults".