Styes and chalazia are lumps that develop on the inside/along the edges of the eyelids. Although harmless, the lumps can be quite a nuisance. They can grow both on the upper or lower eyelids.
Styes and chalazia are often confused with each other due to their similarities in appearance. However, they are quite different and can be well distinguished by an eye specialist.  In most cases, styes are painful and cause swelling of the entire eyelid. Chalazion, on the other hand, are usually painless and will affect a single part of the eyelid. The latter are also usually hard and larger in size.

Also Known As

Another name for stye is hordeolum


Stye can be classified into the following:

  • External hordeolum – Occurs along the edge of the eyelid.
  • Internal hordeolum –Grows inside the edge of the eyelid.

Chalazia are not classified into any groups.

Causes and Risk Factors

Styes are caused by a bacterial infection in the hair follicle or in the oil ducts. The external styes commonly begin at the base of the eyelash. For the internal ones, the bacteria block the tiny oil-producing glands in the eyelids. 
Chalazia develops when the oil gland clogs up and then becomes inflamed. It may also follow an internal hordeolum that does not heal. Usually, in this case, a scar tissue forms around the lump. The pain goes away but the bump remains. Large chalazion can obstruct vision.
Risk factors for formation of a stye or chalazion include:

  • Having had the lumps before
  • Blepharitis – This is a condition of inflammation of the eyelids
  • Certain skin conditions, that is, seborrheic dermatitis or rosacea
  • Diabetes or other medical conditions
  • Stress and lack of sleep

Signs & Symptoms

The signs and symptoms presented by individuals with styes or chalazion include:

  • A bump on the eyelid - In styes, the bump may be painful and can cause the entire eyelid to swell. In chalazia, the bump is occasionally tender.
  • Pus spot at the center of the lump for styes
  • Foreign body sensation 
  • Scratchy feeling
  • Photophobia
  • Tearing and crustiness
  • Obstructed vision for chalazion that presses on the eye


The diagnosis for a stye or chalazion is simple. The eye care professional may only need to closely examine the eyelid. If there’s a hard lump, it could indicate a chalazion. Other tests may be necessary where there are abnormalities such as loss of eyelashes, distorted tear ducts or unusual lump location. In such cases, a biopsy may be required. This is a test where a small piece of tissue is taken from the affected region and then observed under a microscope for other conditions.


Styes and chalazia will in most cases go away on their own. The treatment therefore focuses on quickening the healing process. In some instances, however, it may also aim at fighting the infection, draining the fluid or relieving certain symptoms.

Medical Treatment

Medications are prescribed where home remedies have failed. The doctor may issue antibiotic drops, pills, or creams. They are meant to minimize the infection. Steroid shots can also be indicated where the swelling is severe.

Surgical Treatment

Surgery is recommended when the stye or chalazion does not seem to go away. The procedure involves draining the lump. It is done using local anaesthesia with the patient awake.

Home Care

Home remedies are considered the first line of treatment for styes and chalazion. The patient is required to apply warm compresses for about 10-15 minutes, three to five times daily. The remedy aids in faster healing. In chalazia, the use of warm water also helps to open clogged ducts allowing for proper drainage. 

Prognosis/Long-term outlook

Most styes and chalazia resolve on their own or after warm compresses and medications. If they don’t, surgery is usually the next resort. In case of persistence thereafter, more tests ought to be done to check for underlying conditions. 
Patients may need to visit the eye specialist 1-2 weeks after treatment to monitor healing. In a few instances, the stye or chalazion may recur.

Prevention/Follow Up

Preventive measures for styes or chalazion include:

  • Washing hands before touching the eyes
  • Avoiding dust and other particles by putting on safety glasses when in a hazardous environment.
  • Replacing makeup regularly. Bacteria can easily grow in the cosmetic products
  • Washing makeup off from face before going to bed.
  • Cleaning eyelids frequently, particularly for those who get styes or chalazia often
  • Avoiding stress and lack of sleep