Small bumps that form on the upper or lower eyelid may indicate one of two conditions: styes or chalazions. The easiest way to distinguish between the two is by level of pain. While styes are usually red and quite painful, most people will not feel a chalazion, even if the bump grows to pea-size or larger.

Styes are a infection of the oil glands on the eyelid and are caused by poor hygiene or inflammation of the glands. They are accompanied by pain, swelling, tearing, or crusting of the eyelid. If you notice these symptoms, it is important to contact your doctor within 48 hours to have the infection properly treated.  A hordeolum is another term for a stye.  There are two types: internal hordeolum and external hordeolum.  Your eye doctor will be able to help you distinguish between the two types, and this will affect the treatment options.

Chalazions occur when the oil glands become clogged. People with the following characteristics are more likely to develop chalazions:

  • Chronic inflammation of the eyelid or lash line
  • Acne rosacea
  • Seborrhea
  • Tuberculosis
  • Viral Infection

Believing your chalazion will just go away could be a mistake, although it is possible.  Thankfully, initial treatment for a chalazion is conservative.  Usually the first line of treatment for a stye is to start with warm compresses.  However, once the bump becomes a chalazion, warm compresses may not help.  Your doctor may prescribe some drops for you, although the drops may also be ineffective.  Ultimately, your doctor may refer you for an in-office procedure to remove the chalazion. This treatment is a common procedure performed by our eye care specialists and will not alter the normal function of the lid.

If you believe you may have a chalazion or stye, schedule an appointment to talk with a doctor about which treatment plan is right for you.


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