Styes and chalazia
are lumps in or along the edge of an eyelid. They may be painful or annoying,
but they are rarely serious. Most will go away on their own without
stye is an infection that causes a tender red lump on
the eyelid. Most styes occur along the edge of the eyelid. When a stye occurs
inside the eyelid, it is called an internal hordeolum (say
chalazion (say "kuh-LAY-zee-on") is a lump in the
eyelid. Chalazia (plural) may look like styes, but they are usually larger and
may not hurt.
Styes are caused
by a bacterial infection. Usually the bacteria grow in the root (follicle) of
an eyelash. An
internal hordeolum is caused by infection in one of
the tiny oil glands inside the eyelid.
A chalazion forms when
an oil gland in the eyelid becomes blocked. If an internal hordeolum doesn't
drain and heal, it can turn into a chalazion.
What are the symptoms?
A stye usually starts as a
red bump that looks like a pimple along the edge of the eyelid.
As the stye grows, the eyelid becomes
swollen and painful, and the eye may water.
Most styes swell for
about 3 days before they break open and drain.
Styes usually heal
in about a week.
A chalazion starts as a firm lump or
cyst under the skin of the eyelid.
Unlike styes, chalazia often don't hurt.
Chalazia grow more slowly than styes. If a
chalazion gets large enough, it may affect your vision.
inflammation and swelling may spread to the area
surrounding the eye.
Chalazia often go away in a few months
How is a stye or chalazion diagnosed?
diagnose these problems by closely examining the eyelid. It may be hard to
tell the difference between a stye and a chalazion. If there is a hard lump
inside the eyelid, the doctor will probably diagnose it as a chalazion.
How are they treated?
Home treatment is all that
is needed for most styes and chalazia.
Apply warm, wet compresses for 5 to 10 minutes, 3 to 6 times a day. This usually
helps the area heal faster. It may also help open a blocked pore so
that it can drain and start to heal.
Use an over-the-counter
treatment. Try an ointment (such as Stye), solution (such as Bausch and Lomb
Eye Wash), or medicated pads (such as Ocusoft Lid Scrub).
Let the stye or chalazion open on its own. Don't squeeze or open it.
wear eye makeup or contact lenses until the area has healed.
If a stye is not getting better with home treatment, talk
to your doctor. You may need a prescription
for antibiotic eye ointment or eyedrops. You may need to
take antibiotic pills if infection has spread to the eyelid or eye.
If a stye or chalazion gets very large, the doctor may need to pierce
(lance) it so it can drain and heal. Do not try to lance
How can you prevent styes and chalazia?
Don't rub your eyes. This can irritate your
eyes and let in bacteria. If you need to touch your eyes, wash your hands
Protect your eyes from dust and air pollution when you can. For example, wear safety glasses when you do dusty chores like raking or mowing the lawn.
Replace eye makeup, especially mascara, at least every 6
months. Bacteria can grow in makeup.
If you get styes or chalazia often, wash your
eyelids regularly with a little bit of baby shampoo mixed in warm water.
Treat any inflammation or
infection of the eyelid promptly.
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Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine
Martin J. Gabica, MD - Family Medicine
Christopher J. Rudnisky, MD, MPH, FRCSC - Ophthalmology
How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.