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What is a chalazion?

A chalazion is an inflamed and swollen bump on the eyelid. It occurs as the result of clogged oil glands. Our upper and lower eyelids are lined with oil producing glands called meibomian glands. When these glands become clogged, the oil begins to accumulate within the eyelid leading to the attraction of inflammatory cells. Chalazia are typically the result of inflammation and not infection. The chalazion may initially present with little to no pain or discomfort however, as it progresses, it will frequently become red, swollen, and tender to touch.

chalazion image

What is the difference between a chalazion and a stye?

While chalazion are the result of sterile inflammation within a clogged oil gland, a stye is usually the result of an infection of the eyelash hair follicle (external) or the meibomian gland (internal). Styes will typically cause a painful red bump at the margin of the eyelid with a small pus spot at the center. However, clinically it is frequently difficult to differentiate between a chalazion and a stye.

Who is at risk?

Anyone is at risk for developing a chalazion or stye however the risk increases in individuals with blepharitis, rosacea, and seborrheic dermatitis.

Treatment for Chalazions

The same treatment regimen is implemented for styes and chalazion. Initially, warm compresses are recommended to promote opening of the clogged gland. If this conservative treatment fails, an appointment with a board-certified ophthalmologist is recommended to evaluate the lesion and explore other treatment options consisting of steroids, antibiotics, and/or drainage of the lesion. We do not recommend self-diagnosis as there are skin cancers that have an identical appearance to a stye or chalazion.

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