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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.
Styes and chalazia may be related to blepharitis, a common problem that causes inflammation of the eyelids.
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.
A stye usually starts as a red bump that looks like a pimple along the edge of the eyelid.
A chalazion starts as a firm lump or cyst under the skin of the eyelid.
Doctors 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.
Home treatment is all that is needed for most styes and chalazia.
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 gets very large, the doctor may need to pierce (lance) it so it can drain and heal. Do not try to lance it yourself.
If a chalazion does not go away or if it gets worse, a doctor may recommend an injection of steroid medicine or surgery to remove it.
Other Works Consulted
Dambro MR (2006). Hordeolum (stye). In Griffith's 5-Minute Clinical Consult, p. 520. Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams and Wilkins.
Neff AG, et al. (2014). Benign eyelid lesions. In M Yanoff, JS Duker, eds., Ophthalmology, 3rd ed., pp. 1295–1305. Edinburgh: Mosby.
Trobe JD (2006). The red eye. Physician's Guide to Eye Care, 3rd ed., chap. 4, pp. 47–51. San Francisco: American Academy of Ophthalmology.
Vagefi MR, et al. (2011). Lids and lacrimal apparatus. In P Riordan-Eva, ET Cunningham, eds., Vaughan and Asbury's General Ophthalmology, 18th ed., pp. 67–82. New York: McGraw-Hill.
Weinberg RS (2007). Diseases of the eyelid, conjunctiva, and anterior segment of the eye. In LR Barker et al., eds., Principles of Ambulatory Medicine, 7th ed., pp. 1816–1829. Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams and Wilkins.
Wright KW (2008). Pediatric "pink eye." In Pediatric Ophthalmology for Primary Care, 3rd ed., pp. 159–187. Elk Grove Village, IL: American Academy of Pediatrics.
Current as of: May 5, 2019
Author: Healthwise StaffMedical Review: Kathleen Romito, MD - Family MedicineMartin J. Gabica, MD - Family MedicineAdam Husney, MD - Family MedicineE. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine
Current as of:
May 5, 2019
Medical Review:Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine & Martin J. Gabica, MD - Family Medicine & Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine & E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine
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