Stye and Chalazion
If you have a tender lump in your eyelid, you don’t need a physician to tell you there is a problem. You do, however, need a medical intervention to address a chalazion or a stye that lasts longer than a couple of days. Often times, the clogged follicles will resolve themselves with some simple self-care measures, but other times, a stye or chalazion can persist into a painful and unsightly condition. Appropriate treatments vary from home remedies to Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) therapy.
You may not be able to tell the difference between a stye and a chalazion yourself, since both of these conditions present as a lump on the eyelid.
A stye on your eyelid is uncomfortable, even if it’s very tiny. The lump may feel warm and inflamed, and in some cases, it may even be visible in the mirror. If a stye appears under the eyelid, it’s known as an internal hordeolum.
Chalazion form more slowly than styes and usually present in the middle of the eyelid. The mass may grow big enough to block your vision. Chalazion are less painful but can become large enough to become noticeable to others.
Causes of Styes and Chalazion
The underlying cause of a chalazion is blockage of the meibomian glands, also called tarsal glands. These glands are located right behind your lashes, where they produce meibum, an oily substance that slows the evaporation of tears on the eyeball.
Styes, on the other hand, form inside a clogged eyelash follicle (much like a pimple formation). A stye can sometimes spread into the eyelid.
People who have dry eyes as a result of other conditions such as blepharitis or dry eye disease are more prone to developing a secondary condition like a stye or chalazion. Rubbing the eyes can also irritate the skin and spread bacteria.
Treatment for Styes and Chalazion
- Warm compresses are easy to administer at home. You can use a hot water bag, a heated pack from the pharmacy, or soak a small, clean towel in hot water. Apply for 15 minutes, several times a day. The heat and moisture will open the pores and allow the clog to loosen and drain.
- Topical antibiotic creams are available over the counter or by prescription. They typically offer relief in the first couple of days, but can only help if there is an infection.
- Injections performed in the eye doctor’s office are a stronger intervention, delivering medicine directly into the skin. Doctors may use antibiotics to fight infection and/or steroids to speed healing.
- Manual Gland Expression is an option where your medical professional would manually work out the clog and clear your glands. It should only be done by an experienced physician. Some people claim they’ve been lucky with manually expressing their own chalazion and styes, but the likelihood you’ll irritate the site and push pus further into the skin is high. Irritation or exacerbation of the site due to inexperienced expression will prolong the condition and is not worth the risk.
- Excision (surgical removal) is often recommended for chalazion that persist for a few months. Under local anesthesia, the surgeon drains the mass in a procedure that only takes 15-20 minutes. Most of the time this procedure does not require stitches, and the surgeon may be able to make the incision on the underside of your eyelid to avoid scarring.
- Intense Pulsed Light is the newest treatment that addresses blocked meibomian glands. IPL works in combination with manual gland expression (cleaning) that we offer. The light warms the oily clog, softening it and making it easier to remove. The light also kills the bacteria causing infection and inflammation.
There is no reason to suffer from a stye or chalazion long term. If the first home remedies are not effective after a couple of days, schedule an appointment with one of our medical professionals experienced with resolving these eyelid conditions.