Victoria, BC

Jubilee Medical Clinic

Styes and Chalazia

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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 treatment.

  • A 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.
  • A chalazion is a lump in the eyelid. Chalazia (plural) may look like styes, but they are usually larger and may not be painful.

Styes and chalazia may be related to blepharitis, a common problem that causes inflammation of the eyelids.

Home treatment is all that is needed for most styes and chalazia.

  • Apply warm, wet compresses 3 to 6 times a day. This usually helps styes and chalazia heal faster. It may also help open a blocked pore so that it can drain and begin to heal.
  • Use an over-the-counter treatment. Try an ointment (such as Polysporin), solution (such as Bausch and Lomb Moisture Eyes), or medicated pads (such as Lid-Care Towelettes).
  • Let it open on its own. Do not squeeze or open a stye or chalazion.
  • Don't wear eye makeup or contact lenses until after the stye or chalazion heals.

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 it yourself.

To help 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 first.
  • Replace eye makeup, especially mascara, at least every 6 months. Bacteria can grow in makeup.
  • Treat any inflammation or infection of the eyelid promptly. If you get styes or chalazia often, wash your eyelids regularly with a little bit of baby shampoo mixed in warm water.

Styes

Styes are caused by a bacterial infection. Usually the bacteria grow in the follicle of an eyelash. An internal hordeolum is caused by infection in one of the tiny oil glands inside the eyelid.

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.

If a stye is not getting better with home treatment, talk to your doctor. You may need a prescription antibiotic eye ointment or eyedrops. You may need to take antibiotic pills if infection has spread to the eyelid or eye.

Chalazion

A chalazion develops when an oil gland in the eyelid becomes blocked. If an internal hordeolum doesn't drain and heal, it can turn into a chalazion.

A chalazion forms a firm lump or cyst under the skin of the eyelid.

  • Chalazia grow more slowly than styes. If a chalazion gets large enough, it may interfere with vision.
  • The inflammation and swelling may spread to the area surrounding the eye.
  • Chalazia often go away in a few months without treatment.