Hordeolum (stye)

A hordeolum, commonly called a “stye”, is an infection of an oil gland at the edge of the eyelid.
Stye Hordeolum

A hordeolum is usually caused by a bacterial staph infection and results in pain, swelling, and redness.  A hordeolum looks like a pus-filled lump or pimple at the edge of the eyelid. Treatment includes warm compresses and antibiotic eye drops or ointments.  Hordeola can be prevented by keeping the eyelids clean, removing makeup at bedtime, replacing eye makeup every three months, and hand washing before touching the area around the eyes.  Do not attempt to squeeze or drain the stye yourself.  Contact your eye doctor immediately if the redness and swelling extend beyond your eyelid to your cheek or other parts of your face.

Causes & risk factors

Some people are more prone to develop a hordeolum, but it is also associated with:

  • Contact lens wear.
  • Poor hygiene.
  • Using eye makeup that is old or contaminated.
  • Blepharitis, an inflammation or infection of the eyelids.
  • Systemic conditions such as rosacea, seborrheic dermatitis, or diabetes.


  • Swelling, redness, pain or tenderness of the eyelid.
  • Feeling like there is something in your eye.
  • Excessive tearing.
  • Crusting of the eyelid.


A hordeolum is best diagnosed by your eye doctor, who can advise you on treatment options. Necessary testing might include:

  • Patient history to determine symptoms and the presence of any general health problems that may be contributing to the eye problem.
  • External examination of the eye, including lid structure, skin texture, and eyelash appearance.
  • Evaluation of the lid margins, the base of the eyelashes and oil gland openings using bright light and magnification.


In most cases, a stye will go away on its own, but your eye doctor may recommend treatment, including:

  • Warm compresses—place a warm, wet cloth on your eyelid for 5 to 10 minutes several times a day, as instructed by a doctor of optometry.
  • Prescribed antibiotic ointments or drops that have been approved for use in the eye. Local administration of antibiotics can also be by injection. Systemic antibiotics are sometimes used when local antibiotics are not effective or when the infection is not localized.
  • Never squeeze the stye.
  • Do not wear eye makeup until the infection has healed.
  • Your eye doctor may recommend that you discontinue contact lens wear until the infection has healed.


Keep eyelids and lashes clean. Remove eye makeup before going to sleep.

  • Wash your hands before touching the area around your eyes.
  • Do not share eye makeup.
  • Replace eye makeup every 3 months.
  • Keep contact lenses clean and do not over wear contact lenses.
  • If a doctor of optometry has diagnosed blepharitis, follow directions for care.
Find a Doctor of Optometry
Related Articles


Acanthamoeba is one of the most common organisms in the environment. Although it rarely causes infection, when it does occur, it can threaten your vision.

Accommodative dysfunction

Accommodative dysfunction is an eye-focusing problem resulting in blurred vision—up close and/or far away— frequently found in children or adults who have extended near-work demand.

Amblyopia (lazy eye)

Amblyopia—also known as lazy eye—is the loss or lack of development of clear vision in one or both eyes.