Hordeolum (Stye)



  • An acute inflammation or infection of the eyelid margin involving the sebaceous gland of an eyelash (external hordeolum) or a meibomian gland (internal hordeolum)
  • System(s) affected: skin/exocrine
  • Synonym(s): internal hordeolum; external hordeolum; zeisian stye; meibomian stye; stye


  • Predominant age: none
  • Predominant sex: male = female

Unknown: Although external hordeolum is common, internal hordeolum is rare.

Etiology and Pathophysiology

  • Bacterial infection of sweat or sebaceous glands, causing an acute inflammatory reaction
  • In an internal hordeolum, the meibomian gland may become obstructed, leading to a pustule on the conjunctival surface as opposed to the margin of the eyelid.
  • Most commonly caused by Staphylococcus aureus (~90–95% of all cases) or by Staphylococcus epidermidis
  • Seborrhea can predispose to infections of the eyelid.

No known genetic pattern

Risk Factors

  • Poor eyelid hygiene
  • Previous hordeolum
  • Contact lens wearers
  • Application of makeup
  • Seborrheic dermatitis
  • Predisposing blepharitis (low-grade infections of the eyelid margin)
  • Ocular rosacea

General Prevention

Eyelid hygiene

Commonly Associated Conditions

  • Acne
  • Seborrhea
  • An association may exist between hordeolum during childhood and developing rosacea in adulthood.

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