Obscure Medical Terms: How Well Do You 'Speak Medicine'?

Albert B. Lowenfels, MD


November 09, 2018

Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

"Hordeolum" is the medical term to describe an acute focal infection (usually staphylococcal) involving either the glands of Zeis (external hordeola, or styes) or, less frequently, the meibomian glands (internal hordeola). The term is derived from the Latin word for "barley," presumably because the lesion resembles a grain of barley.

Hordeola are usually self-limited and spontaneously improve within 2 weeks. Medical therapy includes lid scrubs, frequent warm compresses, and topical antibiotics if there is drainage or an associated blepharoconjunctivitis.


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