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Children Health – Chalazia and Styes

If you see localized swellings on your child’s eyelid, it is probably chalazia or styes. Chalazia and styes are lumps that are usually in or along the edge of an eyelid. They are both so similar that it may be difficult to distinguish between the two.



Styes are usually red, sore lumps that develop near the edge of the eyelid that is caused by an infected eyelash follicle. When a sty does not heal, it can turn into a chalazion. Styes also include eyelid tenderness and redness in the area. Different from chalazion, styes include irritation and scratchiness in the eye. Further symptoms include a red bump with small puss in the center that is usually located along the edge of the eyelid and at the base of the eyelashes. Patients usually feel as if there is something in their eye, sensitive to light and tearing.



Pronounced as kuh-LAY-zee-un, chalazion forms when the oil-producing gland of the eyelid becomes enlarged and clogged with oil. Chalazia mostly develop further from the edge of the eyelid and are not painful.  They are not caused by an infection from bacteria. 25 percent of chalazia have no symptoms and will usually go away without treatment. However, there are cases where a chalazion becomes red, swollen and tender. Though it is not painful, a large chalazion may cause blurred vision as it distorts the shape of the eye. Sometimes, a chalazion can cause the entire eyelid to suddenly swell. Though it can look displeasing to the eye, chalazia are not contagious.

Styes and chalazia are treated by applying antibiotic ointments on the affected area. Warm compressors can also encourage drainage by softening the hardened oils that are blocking the duct. To warm compress, just soak a clean cloth in hot water and press the cloth on the lid gently for 10 to 15 minutes. This allows the clogged gland to open and drain white or yellow discharge. If it opens, gently massage around the sty or chalazion to help drainage of discharge. If the sty or chalazion does not heal after these treatments, your doctor may suggest steroid injections to stop inflammation and cause the lump to go away in a week or two. The doctor may also recommend a surgical removal.  The procedure is quick and usually performed under local anesthesia. Because a recurrence after the procedure is likely, your doctor may suggest a biopsy to rule out other serious problems.

Styes and Chalazia Prevention

In order to prevent styes, keep eyelids clean. Clogged glands of the eyelid can become infected and lead to styes. Properly clean your child’s face, gently clean and wash their eyelids to remove debris.

However, there is no way to prevent chalazia from recurring. Once a child has had chalazion, it is likely that he or she will get another one. With that, some doctors will recommend a daily regime of lid washing to clear away bacteria and dead skin cells so the pores stay open.