Chalazia and hordeola are both bumps on the eyelid. The cause of a hordeolum, also called a stye, is bacterial infection. Chalazion is the result of inflammation.

Knowing whether you have a chalazion or a stye can help ensure you treat the lump the best way to help it heal.

While both often go away on their own and respond well to home remedies, some people may benefit from medical treatment. That may include antibiotics for an infectious stye or surgery to remove a large chalazion.

Here’s what you need to know about the different causes, symptoms, and treatments for a chalazion versus a hordeolum, as well as their relationship to conditions like blepharitis.

A hordeolum and chalazion can look very similar. But they will feel different. While a chalazion may start as a red and tender area of the eyelid, it usually turns into a lump that’s not painful. A hordeolum, on the other hand, is quite painful.

A hordeolum is caused by a bacterial infection while a chalazion is the result of eyelid inflammation. If a hordeolum isn’t treated properly, it can turn into a chalazion.

If your eye feels irritated and you notice a lump on the eyelid, it may be hard to tell if you have a hordeolum or a chalazion. Your other symptoms may provide additional clues. These may be the same symptoms a doctor uses to give a formal diagnosis.

Chalazion symptoms

Signs of a chalazion include:

Hordeolum symptoms

Signs of a hordeolum include:

  • very painful bump on the eyelid, either outside on the eyelid margin or inside the eyelid
  • swollen eyelid
  • visible pus at the center of the lump
  • light sensitivity
  • more tears than normal
  • eye irritation, like scratching or feeling like there’s a foreign body in the eye
  • crusting along the eyelid

Although chalazia and hordeola look similar, they usually have very different causes. Chalazion is caused by inflammatory processes or the clogging of oil glands in the eyelid. Styes are the result of bacterial infection.

Chalazion causes

The primary causes of a chalazion are obstruction of the oil glands (meibomian glands) of the eyelid or of the oil glands (Zeis) at the eyelash follicle.

Risk factors for chalazion include:

Hordeolum causes

Styes are the result of bacteria. They happen because of meibomian or Zeis gland infection.

Typically, the bacteria that causes hordeola is Staphylococcus aureus.

Risk factors for styes include:

  • stress
  • conditions that affect the immune system
  • rosacea
  • blepharitis
  • chronic dry eyes

A chalazion is a hard, painless lump from blocked oil glands. A hordeolum is a painful lump caused by bacterial infection.

A hordeolum and chalazion are different kinds of eyelid bumps. One doesn’t always lead to the other. However, if a stye isn’t properly treated, it can turn into a chalazion. This is because a stye can prevent the normal drainage of the eyelid’s oil glands.

Left alone, a chalazion is unlikely to become a hordeolum. If the chalazion ruptures, especially when picked at and irritated, the spewn debris can incite acute inflammation inside the eyelid and clinically behave as if a hordeolum. You should avoid picking at a chalazion.

Blepharitis is inflammation of the eyelid. It shares many of the symptoms of chalazion and hordeolum, such as redness, burning, itchy eyes, and irritation. Blepharitis also causes dandruff-like flakes near the base of the eyelashes.

Unlike styes and chalazia, a lump on the eyelid isn’t a symptom of blepharitis. However, having blepharitis can put you at higher risk for getting either a hordeolum or chalazion.

Sometimes, blepharitis is the result of too many bacteria on the eyelids, and a stye is also caused by bacteria. Chalazia and blepharitis may also come from clogging of the eyelid’s oil glands.

Doctors determine whether an eyelid lump is a hordeolum or chalazion by doing a physical examination of the eye. They will also ask about your symptoms.

They may diagnose a stye if the lump is painful or tender to the touch or if you have burning or swelling in one eyelid. If the lump isn’t tender and there’s little or no redness in the surrounding eyelid, they may diagnose a chalazion.

Chalazia and hordeola usually get better without treatment after a few weeks. Although it’s tempting to pop a stye or chalazion, this can do more harm to the eye area. If you have an infection, popping the lump may make it spread.

Self-care measures done a few times daily can help speed up the process of resolving the chalazion or hordeolum. If these methods don’t work, a doctor can offer medical solutions like medications or surgery.

Chalazion treatment

  • applying a warm compress to the chalazion for 5 to 10 minutes at a time, several times a day
  • gently massaging the eyelid around the chalazion after applying the compress
  • surgical incision to drain or remove the contents of the lump
  • corticosteroid injections to reduce swelling

Hordeolum treatment

  • warm compress treatment several times a day, for several minutes at a time
  • gentle eyelid massage to assist with drainage
  • topical antibiotics and corticosteroids, in particular if you have blepharitis caused by rosacea
  • oral antibiotics in the case of eyelid infection
  • surgical drainage when previous treatment is ineffective

You might want to see an eye doctor if a lump on the eyelid causes a lot of discomfort or pain. Even if the lump should resolve, waiting for it to heal may cause you distress if it’s large or affects your vision. If a hordeolum or chalazion doesn’t get better, a doctor may discuss treatment options like surgery.

Consider seeing a doctor if:

  • Home treatment doesn’t bring down inflammation.
  • The lump doesn’t get smaller with warm compress and eyelid massage.
  • The lump is painful, or you suspect an infection.
  • The hordeolum or chalazion doesn’t go away after a month.
  • An eyelid lump comes back.
  • The bump makes it hard for you to see.
  • The bump irritates your eyeball or cornea.

To prevent a bacterial infection that may lead to a stye, practice eyelid hygiene, including:

  • washing your hands before touching your eyes or putting in contacts
  • not sharing makeup and replacing makeup supplies every few months
  • trying not to rub your eyes
  • protecting your eyes from dust and pollution

To promote healing, stay away from makeup or contacts while you have a stye.

Chalazia often come back. In order to lessen the frequency of recurrence, follow the same preventive measures as for hordeola. In addition, you may consider:

  • washing your face every evening, including removing all makeup before bed
  • scrubbing the eyelid area regularly with baby shampoo

Treatment for styes and chalazia are similar, focusing on eye hygiene, warm compresses, and eyelid massage. The conditions have different causes and symptoms.

Identifying whether you have a hordeolum or a chalazion can help you to determine which medical treatments, such as antibiotics or surgical drainage, may be an option if home treatment doesn’t work.