Chalazia and styes

Chalazia and styes are bumps that occur on the eye lid from clogged and infected oil glands or lash follicles. They can range from mild to severe and cause discomfort or pain.

Chalazia vs. styes

Sometimes it can be hard to distinguish the difference between chalazia and styes. Both are bumps that form on the eye lid. The main differences are where the bump is and the amount of pain it causes.

Styes

A stye, also known as a hordeolum, is a painful lump that grows on your lash line or just under your eyelid. It is typically small, pink or red, and causes a great deal of discomfort.

Internal stye

Internal styes are typically caused by an infected oil producing gland. They occur under the eyelid and most frequently near the lash line.

External stye

External styes are typically caused by an infected eyelash follicle. They occur at the base of the eyelashes and may look like a pimple.

Stye symptoms

An internal stye may be difficult to recognize as it may have very mild symptoms, especially if it remains small. If your stye is external you may notice more signs of infection.

  • Painful bump near the eye lashes
    • May be red, swollen and tender
  • Discharge at the center of the bump
  • Crust that forms around the eyelid
  • Sensation of something in the eye
  • Increased tear production

Chalazia

A chalazion is a swollen lump on your eyelid. Overtime the lump may become red and tender to the touch. Often, a chalazion forms from an internal stye. A large chalazion may cause blurry vision.

Chalazion symptoms

  • Painful bump on the eyelid
    • May be red, swollen and tender
  • Blurry vision
  • Crust that forms around the eye lid
  • Sensation of something in the eye
  • Increased tear production

When to see your doctor

Visit your doctor if your chalazion or stye does not begin to heal within a few days, or gets worse.

If you have any of the following symptoms, see your doctor:

  • Severe eye pain
  • Blurry vision or trouble seeing
  • An eyelid that won’t fully open
  • A very swollen or red eye
  • A stye or chalazion that won’t go away

If you get chalazia or styes often, you should also visit your doctor.

How to treat chalazia and styes

Many treatment options are available depending on the severity of your chalazion or stye. Mild cases may go away on their own within a few days, without treatment from your doctor.

It is important that you do not try to squeeze or pop chalazia and styes yourself. Try your best to prevent spreading the infection. Do not wear eye makeup or contact lenses until your infection heals. Only touch the area with clean hands and wash your hands afterwards.

Warm compress

Treat chalazia and styes with warm compresses.

  1. Soak a wash cloth with very warm water and put it over the infected area for about 10 minutes. It may be helpful to microwave the cloth for 10 seconds or so to keep it warm.
  2. Use compresses a few times per day to open the clogged gland and allow the infected area to drain and heal.
  3. After using a warm compress, it may be helpful to gently massage around the area to promote draining.

Over-the-counter treatments

Creams and ointments are available to treat chalazia and styes. You may also prefer to wash the area gently with a little bit of watered-down baby shampoo.

For severe chalazia and styes

Very swollen chalazia or styes may be treated with the following methods by your doctor.

  • Antibiotics
  • Steroid shots
  • Surgery

How to prevent chalazia and styes

Follow these tips to help prevent chalazia and styes.

  • Don’t rub or touch your eyes
  • Use clean hands when handling contact lenses
  • Wash your make-up off before bed
  • Replace your make-up every six months
Last reviewed: 
February 2019

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