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A sty is an acute infection of the secretory glands of the eyelids.

This common infection results from blocked glands within the eyelid. When the gland is blocked, the oil produced by the gland occasionally backs up and extrudes through the wall of the gland, forming a lump (chalazion), which can be red, painful, and nodular. Frequently, bacteria can infect the blocked gland, causing increased inflammation, pain, and redness of the eye, and even redness of the surrounding eyelid and cheek tissue. The medical term for sty is hordeolum. The lump can point externally (outward) or internally (inward). Frequently, the lump appears with a visible whitish or yellowish spot that looks much like a large pimple. Usually, one obvious area of swelling is apparent on one lid, but many styes can appear on one or both eyelids simultaneously. The lump frequently goes away when the blockage of the gland opening is relieved. Furthermore, the infection goes away when the pus is drained from the sty.

What is a sty?
A sty (sometimes spelled stye) is a tender, painful red bump located at the base of an eyelash or under or inside the eyelid. A sty results from a localized infection of the glands or a hair follicle of the eyelid. The medical term for a sty is hordeolum (plural, hordeola). The term external hordeolum refers to a sty that develops at the base of an eyelash (the hair follicle), whereas the term internal hordeolum refers to a sty that develops in a meibomian gland, a gland located on the underside of the eyelid that secretes an oily substance onto the eyeball. A sty is sometimes confused with achalazion (see below), which is a cystor a specific type of scarring due to chronic inflammation arising in the meibomian glands of the eyelid. A chalazion may develop when the infection of a sty persists over time, resulting in scarring around the meibomian gland. In contrast to a sty, a chalazion is usually painless.

What is the cause of a sty?


A sty results from an infection of the oil glands of the eyelid (meibomian glands) that help to lubricate the eyeball. The infection occurs after these glands have become clogged. A sty also may arise from an infected hair follicle at the base of an eyelash. The bacterium Staphylococcus aureus that is frequently found on the skin is responsible for 90%-95% of cases of styes. A sty also can develop as a complication of diffuse inflammation of the eyelid (blepharitis).

What are sty symptoms and signs?


The first signs and symptoms of a sty are usually redness, tenderness, and pain in the affected area. The eye may feel irritated or "scratchy." Later signs and symptoms may include swelling, discomfort during blinking of the eye, watering of the eye, and sensitivity to light. A common sign of a sty is a small, yellowish spot at the center of the bump that represents pus rising to the surface.