Stye & Chalazion

Overview

Styes and chalazia are both lumps in or along the edge of an eyelid. Sometimes it may be hard to distinguish between a stye and a chalazion.

Stye

A stye (also called a hordeolum) is a small, red, painful lump that grows from the base of your eyelash or under the eyelid. Most styes are caused by a bacterial infection.

 

There are two kinds of styes:

  • External hordeolum: A stye that begins at the base of your eyelash. Most are caused by an infection in the hair follicle and might look like a pimple.

  • Internal hordeolum: A stye inside your eyelid. Most are caused by an infection in an oil-producing gland in your eyelid.

 

You can also get a stye if you have blepharitis. This is a condition that makes your eyelids at the base of the eyelashes red and swollen.

Stye symptoms can include:

  • a very painful red bump along the edge of the eyelid at the base of the eyelashes. It may make the entire eyelid swell

  • usually a small pus spot at the center of the bump

  • feeling like something is in your eye

  • being sensitive to light

  • crustiness along the eyelid margin

  • tearing in that eye

Chalazion

A chalazion is a swollen bump on the eyelid. It happens when the eyelid’s oil gland clogs up. It may start as an internal hordeolum (stye). At first, you might not know you have a chalazion as there is little or no pain. But as it grows, your eyelid may get red, swollen, and sometimes tender to the touch. If the chalazion gets large, it can press on your eye and cause blurry vision. The whole eyelid might swell on rare occasions.

Chalazion symptoms can include:

  • a bump on the eyelid, sometimes becoming red and swollen. Occasionally it can be tender.

  • entire swollen eyelid on rare occasions

  • blurry vision, if the chalazion is large enough to press on the eyeball

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A stye of lower eyelid

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A chalazion in the upper eyelid

Risk Factors

Anyone can get a stye or chalazion. But you are even more likely to get one if you have:

  • Blepharitis, a problem that affects the edge of your eyelid

  • Had a stye or chalazion before

  • A skin condition, such as acne rosacea or seborrheic dermatitis

Treatment

You can help alleviate the severity of your stye or chalazion by trying the following:

  • Warm compresses: soak a clean washcloth in hot water and hold it to your eyelid for 10–15 minutes at a time, at least twice a day. Keep the cloth warm by soaking it in hot water often. For a chalazion, this warm compress helps the clogged oil gland to open and drain. You can help the gland clear itself by gently massaging around the area with your clean finger.

  • Antibiotics: Your ophthalmologist may prescribe an antibiotic for an infected stye.

  • Steroid shots: If your chalazion is very swollen, your ophthalmologist may give you a steroid shot (cortisone) to reduce the swelling.

  • Surgery to drain the area: If your stye or chalazion affects vision or does not go away, you may need to have it drained. This surgery is usually done in the doctor’s office using local anesthesia.

 

Do not squeeze or try to pop a stye or chalazion. Doing so could spread the infection into your eyelid. Do not wear contact lenses or eye makeup while you have a stye or chalazion.

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