Chalazion and Stye

Chalazion and Stye

A chalazion and a stye are both lumps in or along the edge of an eyelid. In some situations it may be difficult to distinguish between a chalazion and stye. Most chalazia and styes resolve by themselves within several days to weeks, but sometimes can take months to completely disappear. Warm compresses over the affected area can promote drainage of the blocked gland. If a chalazion or stye needs medical attention, a doctor may use anti-inflammatory eye drops, ointments, or an injection into the bump.

Chalazion and Stye


Chalzion: Lower Lid
Lower Lid Chalazion

Chalzion: Upper Lid
Upper Lid Chalazion

A chalazion is an enlargement of an oil-producing gland in the eyelid that has become blocked. Chalazia tend to develop farther from the edge of the eyelid than styes. Often larger than stye, a chalazia usually isn't painful. It is not caused by an infection from bacteria, and it is not a cancer. Sometimes, when a a stye doesn't heal, it can turn into a chalazion.


About 25 percent of chalazia have no symptoms and will go away without any treatment. Sometimes, however, a chalazion may become red, swollen and occasionally may be tender. A larger chalazion may also cause blurred vision by distorting the shape of the eye. Occasionally, a chalazion can cause the entire eyelid to swell suddenly.


It is important not to squeeze or try to "pop" a chalazion or stye. This may spread the infection into the surrounding eyelid tissue.

Symptoms of a chalazion or stye are treated with one or more of the following methods:

  • Warm compresses: Soak a clean washcloth in hot water and apply the cloth to the lid for 10 to 15 minutes, three or five times a day until the chalazion or stye is gone. You should repeatedly soak the cloth in hot water to maintain adequate heat. The warm compress should allow the clogged gland to open and drain white or yellow discharge. If the gland opens, gentle massage around the stye or chalazion may help drainage.
  • Antibiotic ointments: An antibiotic ointment may be prescribed if bacteria infect a chalazion, or if a stye does not improve after treatment with warm compresses or if it keeps coming back.
  • Steroid injections: A steroid (cortisone) injection is sometimes used to reduce swelling of a chalazion.
  • Surgical removal: If a large chalazion or stye does not heal after other treatments or if it affects your vision, you may need to drained surgically.

Chalazia and styes usually respond well to treatment, although some people tend to have them recur. If a chalazion comes back in the same place, your ophthalmologist may suggest a biopsy (where a tiny piece of tissue is surgically removed and studied) to rule out more serious problems.

It is important not to wear eye makeup or contact lenses until after the stye or chalazion heals.