Styes and Chalazions
Learn the difference between styes and chalazions and what to do if you think you have either.
Have you ever had a bump on your eyelid and assumed it was a pimple? It was more likely a stye or chalazion. Anyone of any age can get a stye or chalazion (although they are more common in people with disorders like blepharitis and contact dermatitis). The two conditions are similar, but differ when it comes to size and pain level.
A stye is a small, red, painful lump that grows on the base of your eyelid along your eyelash line. Styes are hard lumps that are usually painful, red and tender to the touch. They can either grow inside or outside your eyelid, and are mainly caused by bacterial infection. There are two kinds of styes: external, which looks like a pimple and is caused by an infected hair follicle, and internal, which is usually caused by an infection in the oil producing eyelid gland.
Chalazions are generally larger and less painful, and happen when the eyelid’s oil glands get clogged. They are less apparent than styes because they are less painful, but as they grow they can get swollen and tender to the touch. If it gets large enough it can press against the eye and cause blurry vision.
The first treatment you’ll want to try on a stye or chalazion is a warm compress. Soak a clean washcloth in hot water and hold it against your eye for 10-15 minutes a few times a day. This is especially helpful for blocked oil glands to open and drain. If the stye seems to be infected, or isn’t getting better, your doctor may prescribe antibiotics or steroid shots. If a stye or chalazion affects the vision or keeps returning, a doctor might want to drain it or have it biopsied. Never try to squeeze or drain a stye or chalazion on your own, as it could spread infection into your eye.