What is a Chalazion/Stye?
Chalazia and styes are swollen, sometimes painful, bumps on the eyelid. They form when the opening of an oil gland becomes clogged.
When an oil gland is clogged, the gland continues to produce oil, but has nowhere to drain. The trapped oil causes the gland to enlarge and form a “lump”. You may be more prone to chalazia and styes forming if you suffer from:
- Blepharitis: an inflammation of the eyelids caused by bacteria, biofilms, unhealthy oils, mites, rosacea, hormone changes, genetics, age, diet, and our environment. Symptoms include dryness, tearing, itching, burning, grittiness, crusting, and redness of the eyelid margins.
- Demodex mites: These mites are very common and live in the eyelash roots and oil gland openings. They cause inflammation and are commonly associated with chalazia, especially in people with multiple or recurrent chalazia.
- Acne rosacea: Patients with rosacea often have inflammation of the eyelids (rosacea blepharitis).
- Skin cancer: Skin cancer can very rarely cause a clogged oil gland. A chalazion or stye that keeps coming back in the same spot should be evaluated by an ophthalmologist.
Chalazia can form on either the upper or lower eyelid and may disappear without treatment. However, if left untreated, a chalazion may grow large enough to inhibit eyesight.
What is the Treatment Process Like for Styes and Chalazia?
The majority of chalazia and styes can be treated within a matter of weeks with minimum medical involvement. If you notice a chalazion or stye forming, do not squeeze or pop the swollen area. Squeezing or popping the area will result in more damage to the eyelid. Instead, follow these steps:
- Apply a warm compress to the infected area approximately 5 times a day for 10 minutes at a time to help soften the blocked up area. Warm compresses help soften the clogged oils and allow them to drain. Use a microwavable eye mask, rice sock, or other microwavable hot pack. Test the compress on your inner wrist to make sure it is not too hot before putting it on your closed eyelids. Some people use a wash cloth under hot water, but this cools off very quickly, which makes it less effective.
- If the affected area still remains swollen or painful after a couple of days, schedule an appointment with us. Our doctors may prescribe eye drops, eye cream, and/or oral antibiotics. Depending on the severity of the chalazion or stye, surgical removal may be recommended with one of our experienced ophthalmologists.
We recommend coming in for an appointment as soon as you notice swelling or pain of any kind in your eyelid or at the base of your eyelashes for a proper diagnosis of the problem.