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. There are 2 types of hordeolums:
  • External—occurs when the infection is external to the lash line
  • Internal—occurs when the infection is inside of the lash line
Hordeolum (Stye)
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A hordeolum can form when the oil produced from a gland of the eyelid thickens and can no longer flow. If bacteria are trapped in the this gland or an eyelash follicle, an infection can develop. This can result in the development of fluid and pus. It is possible to have more than 1 hordeolum at a time. It is common for them to reoccur.

Risk Factors

Factors that may increase the risk of developing a hordeolum include:
  • Poor hygiene
  • Chronic illness
  • Previous hordeolum—hordeola often recur in the same eyelid


A hordeolum usually begins as a red and swollen area on or in the eyelid. Often, the area is tender and painful. In addition to the red, painful bump, some other symptoms of hordeola include:
  • Tearing of the eye
  • Blurred vision
  • A sensation of a foreign body or itching in the eye
  • Sometimes, there is a point or yellowish spot on the swollen area. This is where the discharge of pus will occur when the hordeolum drains.
Internal hordeola are usually more painful and are less likely to come to a point without the assistance of a doctor.


In most cases, a simple eye exam is all that is necessary to confirm the diagnosis of a hordeolum. Other than looking at your eye, special tests are not usually needed for diagnosis.

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