A pimple-like bump that develops on your eyelid or eyelash is probably either a stye or a chalazion. Styes and chalazia, the plural term for chalazion, grow along the rim of the eyelash or inside or under the eyelid. Styes and chalazia can develop in children and adults. According to All About Vision, both conditions rarely cause harm and usually clear up on their own.
A stye, or hordeolum, usually occurs when bacteria grow in the root of an eyelash. The infection causes a tender, red lump along rim of the eyelid. Internal hordeola occur when oil glands inside the eyelid become infected.
Stye symptoms can include an inflamed, red lump, tearing, tenderness and the sensation as if a particle were under the eyelid. A stye excretes a crusty pus that sometimes can make the eyelid stick closed after you first awaken in the morning. The National Institute of Health indicates that styes typically improve in a few days to a week as the body’s immune system naturally resolves the infection.
Sometimes a stye can develop into a small, painless cyst inside the eyelid called a chalazion. Chalazia may develop if the pore remains blocked by secretions from oil glands and pus after the immune system has eliminated the infection of a stye. Some people develop chalazia without having had a stye. All About Vision reports that people with rosacea or blephartis are more prone to develop chalazia or other conditions due to malfunction of oil glands at the root of eyelash pores.
Chalazia, whether they develop from a stye or not, are not infected and so don’t have the tenderness and pain that accompanies styes. The lump may feel hard when pressed. Chalazia may continue to grow to the extent they press the cornea of the eye and cause a blurriness or distortion in vision, called astigmatism.
Treat styes and chalazia that remain after the stye by applying a warm compress for about 10 minutes at least 4 times a day. This draws out pus and enhances healing. Do not squeeze a stye or chalazion. Apply prescription or over the counter antibiotic-steroid creams until symptoms improve.
When to See the Doctor
Styes and chalazia generally heal naturally, but certain conditions warrant a medical evaluation. The National Institute of Health suggests that you should see a physician if a stye persists for more than a week. Similarly, consult a physician if the entire eyelid is red, bumps become large and painful, the eye is red or a bump bleeds. Speak to a physician if styes or chalazia are chronic or recurring.
Staphylococcal bacteria cause styes, as reported at All About Vision. These bacteria can spread to other eyelashes, the other eye or family members. Don’t share washcloths or eye makeup with others if you have a stye. Keep eyes clean and wash hands frequently to minimize risk of spreading bacteria. Do not wear contact lenses if your stye is infected or has drainage.