What is the Difference Between a Chalazion and a Stye?

If you develop a bump on your eye, you might automatically think it’s a stye. As a matter of fact, it could actually be a chalazion. A what?!? Although many of you have heard of or have had a stye, you may not know what a chalazion is. Both are bumps near the edge of your eyelid, and many people get the two confused. The truth is that both are very common, and pretty much anyone can develop either one.

A what?!? Although many of you have heard of or have had a stye, you may not know what a chalazion is.

What is a chalazion?

A chalazion looks like a lump on the eyelid and may be accompanied by redness on the eyelid. It feels like a small bead in the eyelid, but it doesn’t hurt and left untreated it can get bigger and redder. It can even blur your vision. Unfortunately, a chalazion is likely to return.

According to sites like Mayo Clinic and WebMD, a chalazion is an inflammatory lump in the tear gland of the eyelid. There are an estimated 200,000 US cases per year, and they tend to be more common in adults who also have blepharitis and/or rosacea. A chalazion will usually resolve within a few months but occasionally will need to be removed by a doctor. If you suspect that you have one you should go to your doctor to confirm your suspicions. That way you can get diagnosed and will know for sure.

As I’m writing this post, I currently have one. So, I figured while things are fresh in mind this would make an excellent blog topic for me to share how I go about treating it. First, I’d like to share my background with these though.

The first one I had over a year ago in my left lower eyelid (current one is on the right upper eyelid) and I was super freaked out! I mean you see a lump on your eye and that’s a pretty freaky thing. The doctor that I went to calmed me down and told me that this unsightly bump was just a chalazion and I could try treating it at home. He did say that if it got bigger or did not go away, I would need to have it removed. I was determined to not have surgery, so the following are the things I did and am currently doing to help.

There are an estimated 200,000 US cases per year, and they tend to be more common in adults who also have blepharitis and/or rosacea.

What is a stye?

A stye, a bump that causes swelling of the internal or external part of the eyelid. It is red, irritated, painful, and tender to the touch. A stye can cause the eyelid to swell or even
tear. Also known as a hordeolum, a stye can be caused by an inflamed eyelash follicle. In
addition, it can be caused by a blockage of oil in a meibomian gland. These oil glands keep the eyes lubricated. You can also get a stye if you have blepharitis, which makes your eyelids at the base of your eyelashes swollen and red.

Am I at an increased risk of developing a chalazion or a stye?

Although virtually anyone can develop either one of these, some people are at greater risk
of getting them. For example, if you have a condition known as blepharitis (inflammation
of the eyelids), you are more likely to get either one of these infections. In addition, using old or contaminated makeup or not completely removing your makeup can increase your chances of getting a chalazion or a stye. Also, those with diabetes or certain skin conditions like rosacea or seborrheic dermatitis are factors that increase your risk of developing one of these infections.

Can you wear eye makeup with a stye?

A stye, caused by inflammation and/or and infection, can form on your upper or lower eyelid. Although it usually goes away in a few days, there are still some steps to take to ensure the safety of your eye and your vision. Use a warm compress to reduce pain and swelling and an antibiotic medication to fight the infection. To manage your symptoms, wash your hands thoroughly and often with soap and water and dry with a clean towel each time. This will help prevent the spread of the infection. In addition, keep your hands away from your eye to ensure
bacteria doesn’t transfer to other parts of your eye or to your other eye. During the time you have a stye, DO NOT wear eye makeup as it can carry bacteria and cause another stye. After the stye has been healed and there is no longer an infection, use new makeup and makeup accessories such as brushes, sponges, pads, and eyelash curlers. And remember not to share your makeup with anyone else. Styes can be transferred to another person.

using old or contaminated makeup or not completely removing your makeup can increase your chances of getting a chalazion or a stye.

Can Mascara give you a stye?

You may not realize it, but our body is full of billions of “friendly” bacteria. Staph bacteria, however, can cause infections. Staphylococcal infections can spread from object to person (door handles, towels, clothing, etc) from person to person. For example, if you share
eye makeup with someone who has a stye, the infection could be passed along to you. This would result in you developing a stye as well. Additionally, every time you wear makeup, you should thoroughly remove it. Failure to do so could result in bad bacteria on your eyes from makeup particles.

Does eyeshadow cause styes?

Similar to mascara, eyeshadow, especially old eyeshadow can cause styes. The longer you
use your beauty products, the easier it is for ingredients to go bad. This is a breeding
ground for bacteria to grow inside your makeup, resulting in eye or skin infections. So, the
answer is yes. Eyeshadow can cause a stye.

Can I wear an eyepatch with a stye?

Having a stye is not only unsightly, but the pain and itchiness might compel you to try to
touch, squeeze, rub, or pop the stye. You eye needs to heal. To keep yourself from bothering
your eye, you can wear an eyepatch, especially at night while you sleep to prevent rubbing or
scratching your eye during your sleep.

How to prevent a stye

Although it’s almost impossible to prevent a stye, there are certain steps you can take to
decrease the risk of an infection. First of all, don’t share towels, clothing, or sheets with
someone that has an eye infection. Also, don’t share any type of equipment, such as athletic
equipment, where it could touch your face or eyes. Most important, use good hygiene. Wash your hands thoroughly and often. This will help reduce the amount of bacteria on your hands and lessen the spread of infection.

HOW DO YOU GET RID OF A STYE OVERNIGHT?

No one wants to have a red bump on their eyelid. It’s ugly, red, painful, and annoying. Of course, with any infection, you want to get rid of it as soon as possible, with as little effort as possible. Although it’s very unlikely that a stye will heal overnight, there are a few ways to speed up the healing process:

Warm compress — I found this to be the most helpful thing and it seems to be the most recommended treatment. I like to warm up some water and steep a round tea bag (I use Green Tea) in the water until the tea bag itself is warm. I will then lay the tea bag on my eyelid that has the chalazion. I let this sit until it’s cool and then repeat the process. I usually do this a few times in the morning and then a few times in the evening before bed each day until it goes away.

Clean your eyelid — It’s best to use a baby shampoo that is tear-free to clean your eyelid with a clean washcloth or cotton swab.

Over-the-counter painkillers — Taking medications that contain acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Motrin) can help ease pain and reduce swelling.

Holistic eye drops for styes — While a chalazion is not a stye they do have similarities and I’ve found the Similasan Stye Eye Relief drops to really help with redness. I prefer these ones because they are gluten-free, dairy-free and have what I would consider being clean ingredients. Especially, in comparison to most over the counter eye drops out there.

Don’t wear eye makeup — This is a hard one, but if possible, try to not wear eye makeup until the chalazion has cleared up. Even the cleanest makeup out there can irritate when you have one of these things.

Don’t wear contacts — If you normally wear contacts, wear glasses instead. Bacteria from your eye infection can get onto your contacts and spread the infection.

Use ointments — Antibiotic stye ointments can be purchased over-the-counter to help speed up the healing process.

FINAL THOUGHTS

In learning more about what a chalazion is I actually wasn’t all that surprised that I get/got them considering I do have rosacea. It’s just a major bummer when you have things to do and places to go and then you have to cancel everything. I have found by following these steps though I can get it to go away within a few days to a week. To me, this is WAY better than having to go in and have it removed.

I’ve also considered maybe trying the eyelid cleansing oil and eyelid foaming cleanser from We Love Eyes. They have a set for blepharitis and while I don’t personally have that I’ve been thinking that this could maybe also help to prevent more chalazions from showing up in the future. I haven’t seen anything on their site about chalazions but I’m thinking maybe it could at least help.

I didn’t want to share any pictures with you in this post BUT if you are brave enough you can google Chalazion and see for yourself what they look like. They’re really strange!

If you suspect you have a chalazion or a stye, make sure to see your doctor so they can confirm your suspicions. I will also state that I am not a medical professional and this advice is just based on my personal experience. I hope you found this blog post to be informative and helpful. Thank you for taking the time to read it. I’m also curious to know if you’ve ever had one before. If so let us know if you were able to treat it at home or if you had to have it removed.

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11 Comments

  1. Oh my I’ve had these things since getting older!! They just rear their ugly heads whenever!! I wear makeup and I enjoy the whole thing. My makeup is on the expensive sude and I hate to replace it. However I’ve learned to buy less expensive makeup and toss it as the alternative is not a good one. Thank you so much for the information I will adher to it this time.

  2. Not sure if my other comment posted, but I have used homeopathy incredibly succesfuly to treat so many conditions for myself and my family. Homeopathy recommends Staphysagria, Conium, or Thuja as great remedies to resolve chalizon. You can get these at health food stores Boiron, I always use 30C. We will be trying Thuja first for my husband but Staphyshagria is a top one following major stress or upset.

  3. BTW if using the homeopathic remedies I mentioned before Staphysagria is the top one if you Chalizion appeared after a big emotional upset, suppressed anger, being treated rudely poorly. I noticed someone asked about correlation with stress so I thought I would add this detail

  4. Im really into Homeopathy, They recommend the Use of remedies like Boiron Staphysagria, conium, or Thuja to resolve Chalazion. My husband just developed one, we will be trying Thuja first.

  5. I got mine the day after my daughter’s wedding. The ophthalmologist said Chalazions can occur after periods of high stress or travel. Been two weeks and I’m almost finished with antibiotics.

    1. Interesting. I noticed a correlation between stress and a Chalazion coming up as well. I seem to have been able to keep it from coming back this time. The Ophthalmologist I went to said there’s a connection with Rosacea as well which ALSO flares up with stress.

      At this point I feel like I can pretty much blame stress for a good portion of things lol. I hope you’re feeling better and congratulations on your daughter’s wedding.

  6. Do you have to throw away any eye makeup (like mascara or eyeliner) that you might have used when you had the Chalazion, like you have to do with a Stye?

    1. Hi Trisha, I’ve never had the advice to do so, but I do it anyway as a precaution since mine seem to always start as a stye first. When I’ve had a Chalazion, I try not to wear makeup at all if I can help it.

  7. Ashley, it’s me again… Forgot to let you know that the Gabriel Cosmetics Sea fennel Gentle Eye Makeup Remover is gluten free ! I love the generous amount of product,(3.3 OZ /100ml) for $15.50. They also offer a smaller amount for less but this has become an essential to me. I wouldn’t want to wear eye makeup without it. ☺️. Praying your eye will heal soon. kb

  8. Hi Ashley….I didn’t compress my eye or use any medicated drops in the early stages… Eventually the chalazion needed to be removed by an opthalmologist. I now try to remove my eye makeup before sleep which I often would not do. Also I use an excellent eye makeup remover from Gabriel cosmetics which is soothing and has no greasy residue. Thank God I have managed since to avoid a recurrence. God’s Best for healing. kb

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