Medbroadcast  Powered by MediResource

 Browse alphabetically
Family & Child Health
Men's Health
Women's Health
Seniors' Health
Ankylosing Spondylitis
Arthritis (Rheumatoid)
Atrial Fibrillation
Baby Health
Back Health
Bladder (Overactive)
Brain Health
Childhood Vaccinations
Crohn's & Colitis
Cold and Flu
Cosmetic Procedures
Depression NEW!
Digestive Health
Ear Health
Eating Disorders
Eye Health
Flu (Seasonal)
Healthy Skin
High Blood Pressure
Kidney Health
Low Testosterone NEW!
Lung Health
Medications and your Health
Mental Health
Multiple Sclerosis NEW!
Natural and Complementary Therapy
Oral Care
Osteoarthritis of the Knee NEW!
Psoriatic Arthritis (PsA)
Seasonal Health
Sexual Health
Sleep Health
Stroke Risk Reduction
Weight Management
Workplace Health
Yeast Infection
All health channels

Ask an Expert
Clinical Trials
Find a Specialist
Health features

Condition Info Drug Info Tests and Procedures Natural Products Ask an Expert Support Groups Clinical Trials
Home Bookmark Page Send to a Friend Sante Chez Nous Subscribe
Condition Info > S > Styes
Please enter the condition name


Search by first letter




In this condition factsheet:

The Facts on Styes

Styes are minor, short-term bacterial infections affecting the edge of the eyelid or eye. A stye is also called a hordeolum.

Glands around the edge of the eyelid get clogged and swell until a sore like a small pimple or boil appears. It may also be due to a blockage in a follicle of an eyelash. The sore causes eye pain and becomes temporarily filled with pus. A second, more serious type of stye can develop deeper inside the eyelid and swell until it needs the attention of a doctor.

Styes are the most common type of eyelid infection. The average person has a good chance of having one or two styes in their lifetime, though some people develop them repeatedly. They can be annoying and painful but are usually not serious.

Causes of Styes

There are actually two distinct types of stye. Both are usually caused by a bacterium known as staphylococcus, or "staph" for short. It's a common bacterium on your skin that can over-reproduce and start infections.

When it causes the type of ordinary stye called an external hordeolum, it begins by infecting an eyelash at the root (the follicle), unleashing a process that results in swelling. This kind of stye can also start from a staph infection in an area close to the follicles called the glands of Moll and Zeiss. When the stye swells and begins to infect or clog other glands around the eyelid, it causes pain and discomfort. At this point, you may often see and feel a nodule, a small pimple-like reddish abscess that begins to fill with pus.

Not all styes are visible. A stye that forms beneath the surface of the eyelid will hurt, but it may never develop an external nodule. Styes form most commonly in the upper eyelid near the eyelashes, but can develop on the lower eyelid as well. Usually, only a small area of the eyelid swells, but the entire lid may occasionally become inflamed.

The second kind of stye, the internal hordeolum, is a more serious form of staph infection. It originates in a gland called the meibomian beneath the surface of the middle of the eyelid. Because it's buried in the central part of the eyelid, an internal hordeolum is more painful than the external kind. While the pus in an external stye will usually drain on its own, an internal one won't. The person will most likely have to visit a doctor to have it opened and drained.

Both external and internal styes are not contagious, and are never a sign of cancer.

Symptoms and Complications of Styes

Symptoms of styes include redness, swelling, pain, or tenderness in part of the eye. These sensations are usually accompanied by slightly blurred vision, a teary sensation, and the feeling of something in the eye. An external stye can be easily verified by finding the nodule on the eyelid. Sometimes, people with internal stye experience fever or chills.

People generally get a single stye at a time. Some people get more than one stye at a time. A few suffer from the condition chronically and have repeated infections. The staph infection that starts as a stye can sometimes spread to the tissue of the eye. A stye that grows rapidly like this or opens to drain pus into the eye needs medical attention. People with recurring styes can also develop a chronic eyelid infection called staph blepharitis.



Did you find what you were looking for on our website? Please let us know.

 Search for information related to
Hot Topics - Bedwetting, Depression, Flu (Seasonal), Healthy Skin, Incontinence, Multiple Sclerosis, Psoriasis, Stroke Risk Reduction

Condition and disease information is written and reviewed by the MedBroadcast Clinical Team.

The contents of this site are for informational purposes only and are meant to be discussed with your physician or other qualified health care professional before being acted on. Never disregard any advice given to you by your doctor or other qualified health care professional. Always seek the advice of a physician or other licensed health care professional regarding any questions you have about your medical condition(s) and treatment(s). This site is not a substitute for medical advice.
© 1996 - 2015 MediResource Inc. - MediResource reaches millions of Canadians each year.