It is quite common for a chalazion to be confused with a stye, which also appears as a lump on the eyelid. There are some differences between the two, however. As a rule, a chalazion appears further from the edge of the eyelid than a stye does, and it’s not usually tender – unlike a stye. The two also have different causes. Whereas a chalazion is associated with the oil-producing glands, a stye is an infection of the eyelash follicle.
Both conditions usually don’t cause complications. They require minimal treatment and will go away on their own. However, if you notice changes in your stye or chalazion, seek out medical attention to prevent complications.
The most obvious sign of a chalazion is a lump on the upper or lower eyelid. Other signs and symptoms include a tender spot on the eyelid, a hard lump you have not seen before, increased tearing of the eyes, blurred or blocked vision, and sensitivity to light.
Symptoms of a stye include a red lump on the eyelid similar to a pimple or boil, eyelid pain, eyelid swelling, and tearing.
A chalazion appears when there is a blockage of an oil-producing gland in the upper or lower eyelid, known as meibomian gland (or tarsal gland). Some people are at a higher risk for chalazia, and the risk factors include having a prior history of chalazia and touching your eyes with dirty hands. Chalazia are also more common among individuals with rosacea and eye inflammation.
As chalazion is caused by the gland blockage, it could be associated with the following:
The main cause of a stye is a bacterial infection of the oil glands in the eyelid. The bacteria responsible for this infection is staphylococcus.
Risk factors for a stye include touching your eyes with unwashed hands, wearing dirty contact lenses (when you don’t disinfect them or put them in with dirty hands), leaving eye makeup on overnight, using old or expired cosmetics, having chronic inflammation of the eyelid (blepharitis), and having rosacea.
In many cases, your doctor will be able to diagnose a chalazion by simply looking at the lump on your eyelid. They will take into account your symptoms for a more accurate diagnosis. There are no specific tests for diagnosing a chalazion.
Similar to diagnosing a chalazion, your doctor will most likely be able to diagnose a stye by simply looking at the eye and examining the eyelid.
Treatment options for chalazia include medications such as eye drops or warm water compresses applied to the eye several times a day. If the chalazion does not go away or grows and blocks your vision, surgery may be required to properly drain it.
Here are some remedies you can try at home if you spot a chalazion on your eyelid:
A stye will often clear up on its own. If not, your doctor may prescribe antibiotic eye drops. If medication doesn’t help either, your doctor will cut open the stye to drain the pus and promote healing.
To manage your stye at home, avoid touching it, clean your eyelid, place a warm washcloth over the eye a few times a day, keep your eye clean, don’t wear makeup while you have a stye, and avoid wearing contact lenses until it clears up.