Chalazion vs. Stye

What's the Difference?

Chalazion and stye are both common eye conditions that can cause discomfort and irritation. However, they differ in their causes and symptoms. A chalazion is a painless, slow-growing lump that forms on the eyelid due to a blocked oil gland. It usually develops on the inner part of the eyelid and can cause swelling and redness. On the other hand, a stye is a painful, red bump that forms at the base of an eyelash or inside the eyelid. It is caused by an infection of the oil glands or hair follicles and can be tender to touch. While both conditions may resolve on their own, a chalazion often requires warm compresses and gentle massage to help it drain, while a stye may need antibiotic ointment or oral medication to treat the infection.


CauseBlockage of oil glandBacterial infection of eyelash follicle
LocationInside the eyelidOn the eyelid margin
AppearanceSmall, painless bumpRed, swollen, painful bump
SizeCan vary in sizeUsually smaller than a chalazion
DurationCan last for weeks to monthsUsually resolves within a week
TreatmentWarm compresses, eyelid hygiene, medicationWarm compresses, antibiotic ointment
ComplicationsRarely leads to serious complicationsCan lead to cellulitis or other infections

Further Detail


Eye conditions can be quite bothersome, and two common ones that often cause confusion are chalazion and stye. While both conditions affect the eyelid, they have distinct characteristics and require different treatments. In this article, we will delve into the attributes of chalazion and stye, exploring their causes, symptoms, and treatment options.


A chalazion is a small, painless lump that develops on the eyelid due to a blocked oil gland. It typically appears as a firm, round bump and can occur on either the upper or lower eyelid. Chalazia are usually caused by a blockage in the meibomian glands, which produce the oily substance that helps lubricate the eyes. When the gland becomes blocked, the oil builds up, leading to the formation of a chalazion.

One of the key characteristics of a chalazion is its painlessness. Unlike a stye, a chalazion is not typically accompanied by significant discomfort or redness. However, it can cause mild irritation and may affect vision if it grows large enough to press against the eye. Chalazia often develop gradually and can persist for weeks or even months if left untreated.

Treatment options for chalazion include warm compresses, which help to soften the oil and promote drainage. Gentle massage of the affected area can also aid in the resolution of a chalazion. In some cases, a doctor may prescribe antibiotic ointments or steroid injections to reduce inflammation and speed up the healing process. Surgical removal is rarely necessary but may be considered if the chalazion does not respond to other treatments.


A stye, also known as a hordeolum, is a painful, red bump that forms on the eyelid. Unlike a chalazion, a stye is caused by an infection of the oil glands or hair follicles on the eyelid. Styes are often the result of bacteria, such as Staphylococcus aureus, entering the oil glands and causing inflammation.

One of the primary differences between a chalazion and a stye is the level of discomfort. Styes are typically tender to the touch and can cause pain, swelling, and redness in the affected area. They may also cause the eyelid to become sensitive to light and produce excessive tearing. Styes tend to develop more rapidly than chalazia and often come to a head, forming a yellowish or white pustule.

Treatment for styes involves applying warm compresses to the affected eyelid several times a day. This helps to promote drainage and relieve pain. It is important to avoid squeezing or popping a stye, as this can lead to further infection or scarring. In most cases, styes will resolve on their own within a week or two. However, if a stye persists or becomes increasingly painful, medical attention may be necessary to drain the pus or prescribe antibiotics.


While both chalazion and stye affect the eyelid, there are several key differences between the two conditions. Firstly, chalazia are painless, while styes are typically tender and can cause discomfort. Chalazia develop gradually and may persist for weeks or months, whereas styes tend to form rapidly and often resolve within a week or two.

Another distinction lies in their causes. Chalazia are caused by a blockage in the meibomian glands, whereas styes are the result of an infection in the oil glands or hair follicles. The treatment approaches also differ. Chalazia can often be managed with warm compresses and gentle massage, while styes may require medical attention, especially if they become increasingly painful or do not improve on their own.

It is important to note that both chalazia and styes can recur. Individuals who are prone to these conditions should practice good eyelid hygiene, including regular eyelid cleansing and avoiding the use of eye makeup that may harbor bacteria. If recurrent chalazia or styes become a persistent issue, it is advisable to consult an eye care professional for further evaluation and management.


Chalazion and stye are two distinct eye conditions that affect the eyelid. While chalazia are painless and caused by a blocked oil gland, styes are painful and result from an infection. Understanding the differences between these conditions is crucial for proper diagnosis and treatment. If you experience any persistent eyelid bumps or discomfort, it is always best to consult with an eye care professional for an accurate assessment and appropriate management.

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