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Stye | What is a chalazion?

Styes, also known as a chalazion, is a hard, often painless, nodule found on the eyelid caused by either chronic inflammation of meibomian or oil glands or a blockage. Read more...



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What is a stye?

Styes, also known as a chalazion, is a hard, often painless, nodule found on the eyelid caused by either chronic inflammation of meibomian or oil glands or a blockage. These can be very uncomfortable, not to mention unsightly.

Are there ways to manage a stye or chalazion?

Given that the oil glands are the trigger or cause of these, the conservative treatment options include eyelid hygiene, warm compresses, and topical antibiotics.

  • Eyelid hygiene involves the use of gentle cleansers to reduce the oil buildup along the lash line. To avoid irritation of the eyes while cleansing, I recommend the use of no-more-tears baby shampoo to gently clean the eyelid skin.

  • Warm compresses can be used to help resolve a chalazion. These are often somewhat impractical to use throughout the day however to really have an effect.

  • The inflammation from around a stye or chalazion can be improved by the use of antibiotic ointments. The most common to use are prescription and specially formulated to be used around the eyelid skin.

Using a warm tea bag, black tea, in particular, reduces swelling and can be used for chalazion as well. and has some antibacterial properties. Black tea bags are also thought to have some antibiotic properties.

Are there any don'ts for styes?

Try not to squeeze the stye! These are not so simple to squeeze and will often make them “angry”. The amount of swelling caused by a stye can be aggravated by squeezing. The goal is to allow these to shrink as much of the swelling is inflammation. If it is not improving or just worsening, please see your doctor in the event it may need to be injected or drained.

Which ingredients should someone look for in soap or a solution to safely clean eyelids?

When buying a cleanser to safely clean eyelids it’s more important to focus on ingredients to avoid. Try to seek sulfate-free and fragrance-free cleansers as these ingredients can irritate the eyes. Many cleansers have added ingredients- some designed to make you ‘feel clean’. Examples of this would be menthol, mints, and citrus which can tingle on the skin. This tingling is a sense of cleanliness but can really irritate the eyelid skin.

Do you recommend any products other than no-more-tears baby shampoo?

There are some specific eyelid cleansers on the market. These usually have hypochlorous acid as their active ingredient. Ocusoft eyelid cleanser is often a good choice. It contributes to an antibacterial effect and is safe to use. The products with this ingredient can be a bit pricey and not always readily available at drugstores which is why I don’t always recommend them.

What should someone look for if they want to use a tea bag on the eyelid?

To activate the effect of a tea bag, it must be placed in boiling water first. Make sure it is cool before placing it on the eyelid! The tannin in black tea is antimicrobial and can soothe the skin can as well.

What should someone look for in an over-the-counter antibiotic ointment to treat a stye?

Most over-the-counter antibiotic ointments are not intended to be used in or around the eyes. There is an over-the-counter ointment called Stye that can be used however its active ingredients are mineral oil and white petrolatum, not antibiotics. It’s more to soothe the skin.

Do you have any recommendations for products that work well?

For true antibiotic effect, it’s important to contact your doctor for a prescription that is intended for use around the eyes.


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