Ever notice a red pimple on your eyelid? Most often, that red bump is likely a stye or chalazion that has developed, which requires a lot more care and treatment. For one, never pop a stye! The close proximity between the eyelid and the eye requires a gentle, expert assessment as any jabbing around the eye can be dangerous and increase the chances of an eye infection.
What is a stye or chalazion?
Styes and chalazions are common eye conditions that develop around or on the eyelid.
A stye develops when oils that flow through the meibomian glands become trapped inside. The blockage inside the glands could be caused by dirt or foreign substances either inside or around the upper and/or lower eyelids. The gradual buildup inside the eyelid eventually becomes a bump or a stye on the eyelid or around the eye. If this continues, a stye will lead to a chronic inflammation or even an eye infection.
A stye or hordeolum that fails to resolve and remains on the eye is called a chalazion.
Often, chalazions are non-infectious and aren’t as irritating as a stye, however, a chalazion doesn’t resolve like a stye. Instead, to remove a chalazion requires the assistance of an eye doctor or, in some cases, a surgeon.
Differentiating between styes & chalazions
Styes typically start as an inflammatory infection of an eyelash follicle, which leads to styes developing on the eyelid. Any red, sore bulges by the edge of an eyelid are likely styes, and they are often sensitive and irritation. The redness around a stye signifies chronic inflammation possibly from an eye infection, so visiting an eye doctor to receive medication will effectively treat the stye. Milder cases will go away on their own.
A chalazion is often on around the eye with less or no inflammation. Chalazions typically follow a stye and will remain far longer around the eye.
These eye conditions are not considered an urgent eye emergency, yet visiting an eye doctor quickly will ensure the eye condition heals quickly. When a stye goes unattended, some oils trapped by the stye can harden and remain on the eye.
These two conditions are similar in that staying clean and hygienic can prevent recurrence. Also, they may develop from dry eye symptoms, so discuss with your local optometrist about how to reduce your dry eyes as well as to ensure your meibomian glands continue to excrete oils. Working with your eye doctor on treating your dry eye symptoms will also improve your visual comfort and reduce irritation.