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What is the difference between a chalazion and a stye?

Updated on February 14, 2018
A Chalzion
A Chalzion | Source

A chalazion is a condition that affects the eyelids. It is a firm lump that forms in the upper or lower eyelid.

A chalazion starts to develop when the opening of an oil gland on the eyelid is blocked by small particles such as grains of dust, dirt or microscopic pollen.

A chalazion is not an infection or growth; it is a swelling that can be prominently seen on the eyelid. It starts as a small lump but can grow in size.

A chalazion is also known as the meimobian cyst, tarsal cyst or conjunctival granuloma. A chalazion is a Greek word that means a small pimple. It is usually harmless and does not affect eye vision.

How does a chalazion form?

The upper and lower eyelids have oil glands present along the margins just behind the eyelashes. There are about 30-40 oil glands in each of the eyelids. These oil glands produce oil that is released into the eyes in order to keep the eyes moist and lubricated.

The opening of an oil gland can get blocked by microscopic particles and prevent the oil from oozing out into the eyes. When this happens, the oil gland starts to swell in size.

As more and more of oil gets collected in the oil gland, the pressure inside increases and this can cause a rupture in the walls of the oil gland.

When the walls of the oil gland rupture, the oil flows back into the eyelid and starts to collect in a small sac. When the pore continues to be blocked, more and more oil gets collected and the sac increases in size causing a swelling or a bump on the eyelid. This swelling is called a chalazion.

The chalazion is painless and is firm to touch. When a chalazion forms, it looks like a small, tender red swelling on the eyelid. As it grows, it becomes a firm lump that may grow to the size of a pea.

People who are prone to the following conditions are more likely to develop a chalazion -

  • acne
  • rosacea
  • seborrhea
  • tuberculosis
  • viral infection
  • chronic inflammation of the eyelids
  • chronic inflammation of the eyelashes


What is a stye?

A stye is a lump that can form on the inside or the outside of the eyelid. It is a soft swelling that is filled with pus and is the result of an infection by the Staphylococcus aureus bacteria.

There are two types of styes -

  • external stye
  • internal stye

External Stye

A stye that forms on the outer margin of the eyelid is called an external stye. The external stye starts as a small spot at the base of an eyelash. During the stages of infection, it can become red and painful before it finally bursts. The external stye usually breaks and heals by itself.

Internal Stye

A stye that forms on the inner margin of the eyelid is known as an internal stye. The internal stye is also painful and appears red and inflamed. When an internal stye bursts open, it may leave a sac filled with fluid, a cyst or a nodule that can remain for a long time and has to be cut open and drained.

A chalazion and a stye are not one and the same. A chalazion may occur as an after effect of a stye.

How does a chalazion differ from a stye?

Chalzion
Stye
A chalazion is caused when the opening of oil glands on the eyelids get blocked
A stye is caused when an oil gland present at the base of an eyelash is infected by the Staphyloccocus aureus bacteria
Does not cause pain
Causes mild to extreme pain
Chalazion is found away from the margin of the eyelid
Stye is found on the margin of the eyelid
Chalazion on the Upper Eyelid
Chalazion on the Upper Eyelid | Source

What to do when you have a chalazion

A chalazion may not go away on its own. This condition may require a visit to the eye doctor. When you have a chalazion, the doctor will recommend warm compresses and prescribe antibiotic eye drops to prevent infection of the chalazion.

If the chalazion persists or grows in size it can be removed surgically by your eye doctor under local anesthesia. It is an outpatient procedure. There are chances of a chalazion recurring again.

Removing a chalazion by surgical procedure does not cause any distortion in eye vision nor does it affect the functioning of the eyelids or tear glands.

References

http://www.aoa.org/patients-and-public/eye-and-vision-problems/glossary-of-eye-and-vision-conditions/chalazion?sso=y

http://www.medicinenet.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=7164

http://www.healthline.com/health/chalazion#Overview1

http://www.goodhopeeyeclinic.org.uk/lidlumps.htm

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    • Vellur profile image
      Author

      Nithya Venkat 22 months ago from Dubai

      teaches12345 thank you for your visit and am glad my article is of help to you.

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 22 months ago

      I am back here reading your post because I had a slight red spot and needed to reeducate myself on the differences. Thank you for the valuable information.

    • Vellur profile image
      Author

      Nithya Venkat 22 months ago from Dubai

      janshares thankyou.

    • janshares profile image

      Janis Leslie Evans 23 months ago from Washington, DC

      Very interesting distinction between these two common ailments, Vellur. Informative and helpful to know the difference. Very good article.

    • Vellur profile image
      Author

      Nithya Venkat 2 years ago from Dubai

      DDE thank you and am glad you learned something new.

    • DDE profile image

      Devika Primić 2 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

      Informative! Something different and I learned about it from you.

    • Vellur profile image
      Author

      Nithya Venkat 2 years ago from Dubai

      Frank Antanacio thank you and am glad you found this informative.

      Faith Reaper yes we can never be too careful when it comes to our eyes, thank you for stopping by and for the precious blessings. Notifications never come most of the times!

    • Faith Reaper profile image

      Faith Reaper 2 years ago from southern USA

      Hi Vellur,

      Most informative hub here. I have known of Styes but not this. Good to know the difference. One can never be too careful when it comes to our eye health.

      Seems I have not been receiving notifications when you publish for some reason.

      Blessings

    • Frank Atanacio profile image

      Frank Atanacio 2 years ago from Shelton

      wow, I never knew that it is called as chalazion. so it's a lump of the lid that is caused by obstruction of the drainage duct of an oil gland... yeah very informative my friend :)

    • Vellur profile image
      Author

      Nithya Venkat 2 years ago from Dubai

      FlourishAnyway thank you for stopping by and yes it is very uncomfortable.

    • FlourishAnyway profile image

      FlourishAnyway 2 years ago from USA

      Never heard of this and I wouldvr mistaken it for a stye. Looks really uncomfortable,

    • Vellur profile image
      Author

      Nithya Venkat 2 years ago from Dubai

      teaches12345 nice to see you here, thank you.

      Nell Rose thank you for reading and thank you for the share.

    • Nell Rose profile image

      Nell Rose 2 years ago from England

      Hi Vellur, really well explained as I have never heard of the problem before, this will be really helpful for someone suffering from it, shared! nell

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 2 years ago

      I had a few of these when I was younger. I wish I would have had your advice back then! Great article and well covered.

    • Vellur profile image
      Author

      Nithya Venkat 2 years ago from Dubai

      annart thank you for your visit, I have had a chalazion and had it removed!

    • annart profile image

      Ann Carr 2 years ago from SW England

      Interesting. Even though my father was an optometrist, I've never heard the word 'chalazion' before. Thanks for the education.

      Ann

    • Vellur profile image
      Author

      Nithya Venkat 2 years ago from Dubai

      BlossomSB yes eyes are very important and we have to take great care, thank you for your visit.

      always exploring thank you for your visit and am glad that you got rid of the stye.

      ChitrangadaSharan thank you. Many confuse chalazion and styes. Thank you for the share too.

    • ChitrangadaSharan profile image

      Chitrangada Sharan 2 years ago from New Delhi, India

      Very nice and informative hub!

      I had no idea about Chalazion earlier. I probably would have just thought it a Stye. Thank for informing about the difference and other details.

      Thanks for sharing! Sharing on HP!

    • always exploring profile image

      Ruby Jean Richert 2 years ago from Southern Illinois

      Interesting article. I had a stye this summer and had to go to the Dr. He treated it with tobramycin which worked well. Thanks for sharing...

    • BlossomSB profile image

      Bronwen Scott-Branagan 2 years ago from Victoria, Australia

      An interesting article. I've heard of styes before, and seen them, too, and also blocked tear-ducts but not this one. Our eyes are so important.

    • Vellur profile image
      Author

      Nithya Venkat 2 years ago from Dubai

      AudreyHowitt am glad you have never had this and thank you for your visit.

    • AudreyHowitt profile image

      Audrey Howitt 2 years ago from California

      I had never heard of this before--thank you for enlightening me--very informative piece!

    • Vellur profile image
      Author

      Nithya Venkat 2 years ago from Dubai

      Jackie Lynnley yes agreed totally gross! thank you for stopping by.

      ladyguitarpicker styes are painful and am glad they have stopped, thank you for your visit.

      travmaj chalazions are worse than styes because if they do not go away they have to be surgically removed. Thank you for stopping by.

    • travmaj profile image

      travmaj 2 years ago from australia

      Interesting and informative - I often had styes when I was a kid but don't believe I ever suffered from this. don't think I'd.like one either - rather nasty.

    • ladyguitarpicker profile image

      stella vadakin 2 years ago from 3460NW 50 St Bell, Fl32619

      Thanks for the useful information. I use to get styes when I was a child under 9, when I got older they stopped.

    • Jackie Lynnley profile image

      Jackie Lynnley 2 years ago from The Beautiful South

      Very gross but thanks for the information. Life is much easier and we have less surprises the more we know!

    • CrisSp profile image

      CrisSp 2 years ago from Sky Is The Limit Adventure

      Thanks Jodah, I just noticed that. Lots of changes in here, eh? And yes, I like those buttons. Pity!

    • Jodah profile image

      John Hansen 2 years ago from Queensland Australia

      Up and share buttons have been retired Cris. Apparently few people were using them ???

    • AliciaC profile image

      Linda Crampton 2 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      Thanks for sharing the very useful information, Vellur.

    • Vellur profile image
      Author

      Nithya Venkat 2 years ago from Dubai

      Alphadogg16 thank you for your visit and the thumbs up!

      Jodah thank you for stopping by and your comment.

      Xhyniie it must have been a troublesome and difficult experience, thank you for your visit.

      Bisma Naeem thank you.

      Junaid Ghani thank you.

      CrisSp thank you for reading and your comment. Thank you for the vote and share too.

      billybuc thank you for reading and leaving a comment.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Very interesting. I have never heard of this condition. Thanks for the education.

    • CrisSp profile image

      CrisSp 2 years ago from Sky Is The Limit Adventure

      P.S. What happened to the "up, useful, etc buttons?" They disappear again? :)

    • CrisSp profile image

      CrisSp 2 years ago from Sky Is The Limit Adventure

      Very interesting! I've learned this while I was in school and you've done a great job in differentiating the stye against the chalazion because more often these two seems hard to differentiate. And as tempting as it may be, Do NOT pop or squeeze them like what people do on pimples. :)

      Now, to its correct pronunciation.. .:)

      Up, useful and sharing.

    • Junaid Ghani profile image

      Junaid Ghani Durrani 2 years ago from Karachi, Pakistan

      Good works. Are you a medical specialist?

    • Bisma Naeem profile image

      Bisma Naeem 2 years ago from Lahore,Pakistan

      very informative

    • Xhyniie profile image

      Xhyniie 2 years ago

      I never know that it is called as chalazion. I've experienced this in both my eyelids without knowing the cause. At first I taught that it was just an insect bites. Now I know.

    • Jodah profile image

      John Hansen 2 years ago from Queensland Australia

      Thanks for sharing this Vellur, I have never heard of a chalazion before. I probably would have just thought it a stye. Thank for informing of the difference.

    • Alphadogg16 profile image

      Kevin W 2 years ago from Texas

      Very interesting, informative and well written article on the Chalazion Vellur. I do believe I actually had one before, it really bothered me having something in/on my eye and ended up squeezing it out. Thumbs up on your hub.

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