Chalazion / Stye
What Is a Chalazion or Stye?
Both chalazia and styes are small bumps on our eyelids, and are sometimes confused with each other. Styes are caused by an inflammation or infection in the eyelash follicles or oil glands at the base of the eye lashes. Stye can contain the same bacteria that causes staph infections, and can be quite painful. A stye will normally resolve itself and drain after a few days.
The eyelid has multiple oil producing glands called Meibomian glands. These can become blocked and inflamed, leading to a painful lump on the eyelids. These are called chalazia. A chalazion usually does not contain bacteria, and often resolves with warm soaks and time.
Both styes and chalazia can be secondary conditions to blepharitis, an inflammation of the eyelids that causes scales and particles to form along the eyelashes. These particles allow bacteria to flourish and can block the Meibomian glands.
Who Is at Risk for a Chalazion or Stye?
If you suffer from chronic blepharitis, you are at risk for developing both styes and chalazia. Other risk factors include:
- Previous styes
- Poor health
- Systemic diseases such as diabetes
- Elevated cholesterol
- Skin disorders such as seborrheic dermatitis or rosacea
What Are the Symptoms of a Chalazian or Stye?
A stye is a red, painful bump located on your eyelid. A chalazion can also appear as a red, swollen bump that gradually hardens. However, with about 25 percent of chalazia, there will be no symptoms. If a chalazion swells and becomes large, it can cause blurred vision because it distorts the shape of your eye.
How Is a Chalazion or Stye Detected?
Both styes and chalazia are diagnosed as a result of a visual inspection of your eyelids by your eye doctor.
How Is a Chalazion or Stye Treated?
A chalazion or stye may resolve on its own. If this does not occur, your doctor may prescribe one or more of the following:
- Using warm compresses: Place a clean washcloth that has been soaked in hot water on your closed eyelids for 5-10 minutes, repeating 3-4 times per day. You should repeatedly soak the cloth in hot water to maintain the temperature. When the granule opens, you may notice increased discharge.
- Antibiotic ointment: Using a clean fingertip or cotton swab, apply a small amount of antibiotic ointment to the chalazion (if the chalazion has been infected by bacteria) or stye.
- Steroid injections: An injection of a steroid such as cortisone may be used to reduce the inflammation in a chalazion.
- Surgical removal: If a stye or chalazion does not respond to other treatments, your doctor may surgically drain it. This would be done on an outpatient basis in the office.
Both styes and chalazia normally respond well to treatment. Normally, a stye will resolve itself after a few days, although a chalazion may remain for some time. However, both can be chronic conditions and re-appear. If you are prone to recurrences, you should initiate treatment as soon as symptoms appear.
Primary Eye Care Specialists at Kadrmas Eye Care New England
Meet our ophthalmologists and optometrists who specialize in primary eye care and general eye health: