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  • Cynthia M. Johnson, MA
Publication Type:





A hordeolum is an infection of an eyelash follicle or a nearby gland. It is also known as a stye. The infection causes a red bump on the eyelid that may look like a pimple.

An external hordeolum is outside of the lash line. An internal one is inside of the lash line.

Hordeolum (Stye).

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A hordeolum forms when the oil from a gland of the eyelid thickens and can no longer flow. Bacteria trapped in the gland or an eyelash follicle leads to infection.

Risk Factors

Things that may raise the risk of this problem are:


A hordeolum usually begins as a red and swollen area on or in the eyelid. It may be in one or both eyes. Often, the area is tender and painful. Other problems may be:

  • Tearing of the eye
  • Blurred eyesight
  • Feeling like something is in the eye
  • Itching in the eye
  • Fluid or pus draining from the area


The doctor will ask about symptoms and past health. A physical exam will be done. It will focus on the eye. This is often enough to make the diagnosis.


The goal of treatment is to ease symptoms and promote healing. Options are:

  • Supportive care, such as using warm compresses to help it drain
  • Antibiotics to treat infection
  • A procedure to lance the hordeolum to allow it to drain


To lower the risk of a hordeolum:

  • Practice proper hand and face washing.
  • Use contact lenses only as advised.
  • Do not share makeup.
  • Do not use old makeup.




  • Chalazion and hordeolum (stye). The Merck Manual: Professional Version website. Available at:https://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/eye-disorders/eyelid-and-lacrimal-disorders/chalazion-and-hordeolum-stye.
  • Eyelid lesions and inflammation - differential diagnosis.EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/approach-to/eyelid-lesions-and-inflammation-differential-diagnosis.
  • Gordon AA, Danek DJ, Phelps PO. Common inflammatory and infectious conditions of the eyelid. Dis Mon. 2020;66(10):101042.
  • Hordeolum (stye). American Optometric Association website. Available at:https://www.aoa.org/healthy-eyes/eye-and-vision-conditions/hordeolum?sso=y.
  • Hordeolum (stye). Johns Hopkins Medicine website. Available at:https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/conditions-and-diseases/hordeolum-stye.


  • April Scott, NP
Last Updated:

This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.