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:

  • Prior hordeolum
  • Having a chalazion or blepharitis
  • Poor hygiene
  • Stress
  • Chronic illness



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.

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.

Edits to original content made by Denver Health.