Your eyelid is lined with small pores called meibomian glands which produce oils for tears. These glands, and the pores at the base of your eyelashes, can sometimes get clogged and infected. An internal hordeolum, more commonly referred to as a stye, occurs when this happens. If you've had one, you'll remember it as being usually a small, red, and painful bump on the eyelid. Other symptoms you can experience are lid tenderness and sore or scratchy eyelids.
So what is a chalazion then?
A chalazion is also a swollen bump on the eyelid that may be red and tender. It’s caused by a clogged eyelid oil gland and may start out as a stye. Often in the early stages there is little to no pain, unlike a stye. However, a chalazion can enlarge and press on your eye, causing blurry vision.
Chalazia usually occur further back in the eyelid, whereas a stye or hordeolum develops towards the edge.
What is the treatment?
Warm compresses! Consistent warm compresses at least four times per day for 10-15 minutes per session. The heat helps open and drain the clogged gland. Gently rinse the eyelids after each session to clear any discharge. An antibiotic pill taken by mouth may need to be prescribed if there is an infection present.
These bumps usually resolve in 2-4 weeks, but if they persist, an eye specialist may need to drain it. This is typically done in-office with local anesthesia.
Do not attempt to squeeze or pop the stye or chalazion yourself as this may spread the infection to your entire eyelid!