Stye (hordeolum) : Symptoms and Causes

Summary :

◉ What causes styes ?

Usually it is a combination of a sebaceous gland (Zeiss gland appended to the eyelashes or Meibomian gland) or a sweat gland (Moll's glands) clogged and a certain type of bacteria.

The germs in question are typically from the staphylococcal family, 90% to 95% of cases of styes are due to Staphylococcus aureus, Staphylococcus epidermidis being the second most common cause.

There are two types of styes :

1- External styes: the most common type, they form on the outer part of the upper or lower eyelid. It can be caused by an infection of:

  • An eyelash follicle: these are small holes in your skin from which eyelashes grow.
  • The Zeiss gland: is a unilobaric sebaceous gland located at the edge of the eyelid. This gland produces an oily substance called sebum, which keeps eyelashes soft.
  • The Moll Gland: Is an apocrine sweat gland located next to the base of the eyelashes on the edge of the eyelid.

2- Internal styes: They form on one of your inner eyelids (facing your eyeball). An internal stye is usually caused by an infection of the meibomian gland which produces oils that help keep the eyelid moist.

◉ Symptoms of Stye

Signs and symptoms of a stye include :

  • A painful red bump that looks like a boil or pimple along the edge of the eyelid near the eyelashes.
  • Itching.
  • The skin around the stye may be swollen and red.
  • Scab along the eyelid.
  • Sensation of a foreign body in your eye.
  • Your eye may be red, light-sensitive, and watery, but your vision should not be affected.

Note : Symptoms of a stye are not specific and may resemble other health problems.

◉ What are the risk factors?

Anyone can have a stye. However, the risk of having a stye is higher if you have:

◉ Is stye contagious?

Styes are usually not contagious, people cannot pass them on to each other. However, as certain bacteria are involved, be sure to wash your hands thoroughly after touching a stye.

Stye : Symptoms and Causes Stye : Diagnosis and Treatment


  1. P.Bernard - Maladies des yeux et des paupières
  2. Pierre DALIBON - Des paupières jusqu'au nerf optique, des affections oculaires diverses
  3. Jérémy VONO - questions de comptoir : On vous demande, sachez répondre
  4. E. Pilly 2020 27ème Edition
  5. Davis Willmann et al - Stye
  6. msdmanuals - Chalazion et orgelet
  7. Ameli - Orgelet : la consultation et le traitement
  8. NHS - Stye
  9. clevelandclinic - Stye
  10. Kierstan Boyd - What Are Chalazia and Styes?
  11. Opticiens par conviction - Les causes de l'orgelet
  12. webmd - What Is a Stye?
  13. mayoclinic - Stye (sty)
  14. Hopkins medicine - Hordeolum (Stye)