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Stye and Chalazion

Stye and chalazion are both localized swellings on the eyelid. It can be difficult to differentiate between the two by looking at them. However, an understanding of the characteristics of each of them can be of help.


Stye, also known as hordeolum, is a painful boil or pimple-like growth on the eyelid. It usually grows at the root of an eyelash or under the eyelid (close to the lid margin). It occurs when an eyelash follicle or gland of the eyelid gets blocked and infected by bacteria.

Signs and symptoms include

  • Boil or pimple-like swelling on the lid
  • Pain and tenderness on touch
  • Swollen or puffy eyelid
  • Redness of the skin around the swelling.
  • Purulent discharges
  • Foreign body sensation
  • Tearing


Chalazion, also known as meibomian cyst, is a painless lump or bump on the eyelid caused by a non-infectious clogging of the oil gland of the eyelid known as meibomian gland. It is mostly seen on the upper eyelid but can also develop on the lower eyelid. It is common in people with acne, rosacea and chronic blepharitis.

Signs and symptoms include:

  • Hard localized mass that is painless and moves on touch.
  • Swollen lid around the bump.
  • There may be a slight blurring of vision if the swelling is large and presses on the cornea.

Treatment of Stye and Chalazion

Most styes resolve within a few days or weeks without treatment. However, warm compresses are very effective in the treatment of stye and in most cases is all that is needed. It softens the substance accumulated in the gland, allowing it to flow out.  In addition to warm compresses, some styes may require topical or oral antibiotics.  Underlying conditions (e.g. blepharitis), if any are usually treated to avoid recurrence.

Just like styes, warm compresses can help resolve chalazion by softening the content so that it can drain out easily.  Medications like steroids may be injected into the chalazion to aid in its resolution. If these treatment options fail, surgery may be done to open up the swelling and remove its content.