Styes and Chalazia

What is a Stye (aka Sty or Hordeolum)?

A stye is a bump at the edge of your eyelid. It is often red and tender, and is sometimes accompanied by swelling of your eyelid.

What is a Chalazion?

Like a stye, a chalazion is also a bump on your eyelid. It develops when one of the glands in your eyelid, known as a meibomian gland, becomes clogged. 

What is the Difference Between a Stye and a Chalazion?

They are both bumps involving your eyelid.

A stye is often tender, or painful, and is caused by an infection; it can progress to involve the entire eyelid (cellulitis).

A chalazion is usually not painful, but can be large enough to distort your eyelid, even placing pressure on the surface of your eye resulting in blurry vision. It can become red, swollen and tender.

What Causes a Stye or a Chalazion?

The most common cause of a stye or a chalazion is the clogging and infection of one of the glands in your eyelid known as meibomian glands (most commonly with staphylococcus).

Symptoms of a Stye or Chalazion:

Signs and symptoms of a stye and chalazion include:

  • A bump on your eyelid (similar to a pimple). It may be red and inflamed.
  • Eyelid pain and tenderness.
  • Eyelid swelling.
  • Crustiness along your eyelid margin, or “dandruff” in your eyelashes.

Who is at Risk of Developing Styes and Chalazia?

Anyone can develop a stye or a chalazion, but people who have the following are at greater risk:

  • Blepharitis
  • Ocular rosacea (or rosacea of your face)
  • Meibomian gland dysfunction
  • Seborrheic dermatitis (patches of scaly, red skin, mainly on the scalp)
  • People with diabetes, or other chronic medical problems
  • People experiencing hormonal changes
  • People experiencing stress
  • People who have had a stye or a chalazion before

How are Styes and Chalazia Diagnosed?

The diagnosis of both styes and chalazia are made clinically by examining your eyelids with a biomicroscope.

What is the Treatment for Styes and Chalazia?

  • Applying warmth to the involved eyelid for 10-15 minutes, 4-5 times each day. This is most effective when done with a warm gel pack, not a washcloth.
  • Gentle lid hygiene a minimum of 2 times each day (see “lid hygiene” for more details).
  • Prescription antibiotics in the form of eye drops, ointment and/or tablets by mouth (depending upon the extent of your infection).
  • If your stye or chalazion does not resolve using warmth and antibiotics, Dr. Muller may recommend drainage. This is performed readily in the office and is not painful after Dr. Muller anesthetizes the area using local anesthetics.

Note: Please do not try to pop or squeeze a stye or chalazion yourself as this can cause the infection to spread throughout your eyelid.