Difference Between Chalazion and Stye

Chalazion vs Stye

Both chalazions and styes present as bumps on the eyelids. They look the same, may occur at the same sites and follow the same natural history. However, there are a few basic differences between a chalazion and a stye and those are discussed here in detail.


Chalazion is also known as Meibomian glandular lipogranuloma. It occurs usually on the upper eye lid. Blocked duct of Meibomian gland causes accumulation of its secretions. Secretions accumulate under the block, and the gland swells up. It presents as heavy, swollen, painful eye lid associated with excessive tearing and sensitivity to light. Large chalazion can cause astigmatism. Recurrence of this may be a clue towards the presence of a sebaceous cell carcinoma. Hypopigmentation of the eye lid can occur due to regular steroid injections.

Normally a chalazion disappears spontaneously over one or two years. If infected, topical antibiotics can be used to treat the infection.  In case of recurrent chalazion, steroid injections or surgical removal under anesthesia is a curative. Surgery is done under local anesthesia, and the cut is inside the eyelid to avoid scarring. If the chalazion is more superficial, an opening from the outside is advisable to avoid damage to the eye lid. Eye lid skin heals quickly; therefore there will not be any scarring. Surgical procedure may vary according to the contents of the chalazion. Fluid can be aspirated under local anesthesia without a large incision. Removal of hard material needs a large cut. Blood may collect at the chalazion site and form a hematoma which resolves within three to four days. Your doctor may take a biopsy if any doubt of malignancy is there.


Infection and inflammation of sebaceous glands of Zeis or apocrine sweat glands of Moll near the roots of eyelashes is called a stye.  It is also known as hordeolum. These are commoner among the youth. Poor hygiene, lack of water, lack of food, and rubbing the eyes trigger styes. There are two types of styes. External styes occur on the outside of the eye lid and are visible on direct inspection. These look like small red bumps. Internal styes are infected Meibomian glands on the inside of the eye lid. They present as red bump on the inside of the eye lid with generalized redness visible on the outside. The commonest causative organism is staphylococcus aureus. These present as localized lid swelling, redness, crusting of lid margins, blurred vision, sensitivity to light, mucus discharge, excessive tearing and pain. Styes do not cause eye damage. Organisms inside styes may spread if the bump ruptures.

Styes usually rupture and heal without complications. Some people need excision in case of frequent recurrence.

What are the differences between Chalazion and Stye?

• Styes are smaller while chalazions are larger.

• Styes are more painful than chalazion.

• Chalazion follows a longer cause without causing any distressing symptoms while styes cause much distress.

• Chalazion points towards the inside of the eye while styes occur at the lid margin.

• Styes do not incur lasting damage, unlike chalazions. Chalazions may cause astigmatism while styes do not.