Best Evidence Topics
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Simple measures for acute hordeolum

Three Part Question

In [patients with acute hordeolum] is [treatment with warm compresses effective] in [reducing complications and time to resolution]

Clinical Scenario

A nine year old child is brought to the emergency department with a tender, red swelling on her eyelid. You diagnose hordeolum (stye) and recommend treatment with warm compresses four times a day. A colleague later challenges your advice and asks what evidence there is for it.

Search Strategy

MEDLINE 1950-2011; EMBASE 1980-2011; CINAHL 1981-2011; via National Library for Health

(exp hordeolum/ OR exp meibomian glands/ OR hordeol$.ti,ab OR stye$.ti,ab OR (gland AND (zeis OR moll))) AND (compr$.ti,ab OR hot.ti.ab OR heat.ti,ab OR warm.ti,ab OR massag$.ti,ab)

Search Outcome

134 Papers were identified by the stated search, including one Cochrane review. None of these answered the three-part question.


The use of warm compresses and massage are widely advocated as a treatment for acute hordeolum, but the efficacy of the method has not been evaluated.

Clinical Bottom Line

There is no evidence to confirm the best method of treating this common problem. Simple, topical treatments including massage and heat therapy can be suggested.