Bacteria can be the underlying cause of both blepharitis and styes. But styes are the result of an infection and cause a painful lump, while blepharitis is eyelid inflammation.
If your eye is uncomfortable, you may wonder if you have either of these conditions or something else like a chalazion or conjunctivitis. All of these conditions typically respond well to home treatment, but your eye doctor can help in the case of more serious discomfort.
A stye is a lump on your eyelid or eye. Most styes are
Blepharitis does not always cause a lump like a stye. Nonetheless, the two conditions have some similar symptoms.
Some of the most common symptoms of blepharitis include:
- red or discolored eyelids
- swollen eyelids
- a sensation of burning on the eyelids
- itchiness of the eyelids
- sore eyelids
- crusts at the base of the eyelids
You may also experience dry eye if you have blepharitis.
A stye shares some symptoms with blepharitis. But unlike blepharitis, a distinguishing feature of a stye is a lump on the eyelid or around the eye. Other symptoms include:
- red or discolored eyelids
- swollen eyelids
- a small, painful lump on or inside the eyelids
- red eyes
- watery eyes
The lump is often painful or tender to the touch.
Blepharitis and styes have distinct causes. However, each may sometimes result from bacteria.
There are two types of blepharitis, each with a
- Anterior blepharitis occurs where your eyelashes meet your eyelids. The cause is usually excess bacteria on your skin or dandruff from your scalp.
- Posterior blepharitis occurs on the inside of the eyelid where it touches your eye. The cause is usually buildup of oil in the oil glands in the eyelid.
You can be at greater risk of blepharitis if you have any of the following:
A stye is also called a hordeolum. A bacterial infection typically causes it. This is usually
External hordeolum is usually at the base of an eyelash. Its cause is a hair follicle infection. Internal hordeolum is usually inside the eyelid. Its cause is an infection in an oil gland of the eyelid.
Blepharitis can also lead to a stye.
Chalazions are often mistaken for styes, but unlike styes, chalazions are usually not caused by infections. A chalazion starts as a swollen area of the eyelid. In a few days, a hard lump forms. This lump is generally painless, unlike a stye that’s tender to the touch.
A chalazion develops after oil glands in the eyelid thicken. When the oil glands are blocked, the eyelid
Pink eye, also called conjunctivitis, is another common eye condition. A virus or bacteria
Although pink eye does not cause a lump like a stye, it shares many symptoms with blepharitis. Conjunctivitis may cause red, itchy, burning, or watery eyes. Unlike blepharitis, pink eye may also cause white or yellow eye discharge. The redness may extend to the whites of the eyes, and there may be eyelid discoloration.
Conjunctivitis usually gets better in 7 to 10 days. You may need to contact a doctor if you:
- have a lot of discharge and pain
- experience light sensitivity
- notice vision changes
- wear contacts
Doctors can look at your eye to
In very rare cases, a lump on the eyelid can be a symptom of cancer. If the doctor suspects cancer, they may order blood testing or take a tissue sample.
Often, blepharitis and styes respond well to home treatment.
Blepharitis often recurs in people. But there are ways to manage symptoms.
- Place a warm compress over the eyes to unclog oil glands and loosen crusts.
- Gently wash the base of your eyelashes with a clean washcloth soaked in diluted baby shampoo.
- Consider antibacterial shampoo for your hair, scalp, and eyebrows.
- Use over-the-counter eye drops to reduce symptoms of dry eye.
Omega-3 fish oils, which are available as a nutritional supplement, may help support the health of the oil glands in your eyes.
An ophthalmologist may recommend prescription treatments, like antibiotic ointments or eye drops.
A stye usually goes away in about 1 week. If it does not go away, or is quite large, an ophthalmologist may remove it surgically. This involves giving you a local anesthetic, making a small incision, and draining the cyst. You will remain awake and alert.
It’s important not to pop a stye, as it may spread the infection or make it worse.
In most cases, you can ease the symptoms at home
An ophthalmologist may recommend an antibiotic ointment if there is an infection.
Consider contacting a doctor if a stye makes it hard for you to see or does not get better within about a week. If you have blepharitis, contact a doctor if home treatment does not resolve your symptoms or you have serious discomfort.
There are ways to prevent blepharitis and styes or to reduce symptoms. For blepharitis, try to keep your hair, skin, and eyelids clean. A warm compress laid over the eyes can help to unclog oil glands and loosen crusty flakes. You can clean crusts using a washcloth soaked in diluted baby shampoo.
For styes, it may help to practice a facial cleansing hygiene to
Many people experience styes or blepharitis. While blepharitis is the cause of a blocked oil gland or a buildup of bacteria, a stye is usually the result of a bacterial infection. Both conditions usually go away in about a week. Keeping the area clean with diluted baby shampoo can help reduce symptoms of blepharitis. A warm compress can help loosen the crusts of blepharitis and reduce stye symptoms.