SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS
Patients will present with an acutely swollen and edematous upper or lower
eyelid. Visual function will be normal. There may be an associated conjunctivitis and
possibly mucopurulent discharge. The lids will be extremely sensitive to palpation, and
there may be an associated pustular, pimple-like lesion at the lid margin or, less
commonly, at the dermis.
A hordeolum is a bacterial infection of either the meibomian glands or
ciliary glands (the glands of Zeis and Moll). If the latter are involved, the hordeolum is
considered external and appears focal in nature. If the deeper meibomian glands are
involved, the hordeolum is considered internal and is less circumscribed in appearance.
Staphylococcus aureus and Staphylococcus epidermidis are the most likely culprits. Acute
and chronic inflammation associated with hordeola, especially if improperly treated, may
result in a granulomatous inflammation known as chalazia. If the infection spreads to
neighboring glands or other lid tissue anterior to the tarsal plate, it may lead to
Traditionally, the standard treatment has been topical antibiotic solutions
and ointments. Unfortunately, this has virtually no therapeutic benefit. Topical
application does not supply enough intra-tissue concentrations of antibiotics to be
effective. Oral antibiotic therapy is necessary. If the hordeolum is external, you may
drain and lance the lesion (anesthetic is usually unnecessary) or epilate nearby lashes to
enhance drainage. Digital expression of purulent material in your office will expedite
healing, but is not absolutely necessary. Antibiotic therapy could include dicloxacillin
250mg PO Q6H, erythromycin or tetracycline 250mg PO QID or amoxacillin 500mg PO TID for 10
days. Cold compresses will help to suppress inflammation.
The most common misdiagnosis of hordeola is chalazia. The
distinguishing factor is pain upon palpation. If the lesion is not intensely sensitive to
palpation, most likely it's a chalazion.
- Avoid traditional topical therapies, which are therapeutically ineffective, and begin
immediately with oral medications.
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