Sties and Chalazia: Differences and Similarities

styeWhat are sties?

Sties are one of the eye diseases that cause a warm, red bump on the eyelid. Most sties emerge along the border of the eyelid. When a sty arises within the eyelid, it is known as an internal hordeolum.

What are Chalazia?

Chalazia are lumps formed within the eyelid. Though they may resemble sties, usually they are larger than sties and they may not cause harm.

Similarities between Sties and Chalazia

Sties and Chalazia are sudden-start localized bumps of the eyelid. 

Initially, both disorders cause eyelid edema and hyperemia, swelling, and soreness.

Diagnosis is medical for both disorders and the treatment is through hot compresses. The treatment for both disorders involves hot compresses two or three times a day for 5 to 10 minutes. Both disorders will occur spontaneously.

Both Sties and Chalazia may be associated with blepharitis, a widespread problem that causes irritation of the eyelids.

Differences between Sties and Chalazia

Usually, sties are caused by disease, whereas Chalazia are caused by non-transferable meibomian gland occlusion. This means that Sties are caused through a bacterial disease due to the growth of the bacteria in the root of an eyelash, whereas Chalazia are caused while an oil gland in the eyelid gets blocked.

Sties remain tender and localized to the margin of an eyelid, whereas Chalazia will gradually become a small non-tender nodule in the center of the eyelid.

Difference in symptoms between Sties and Chalazia


Usually, a sty starts as a red puffiness that resembles a pimple along the eyelid border.

As the infection develops, the eyelid becomes inflated and tender, and the eye may discharge water.

Nearly all sties bloat for about 3 days, then they open and drain.

Usually, Sties heal within a week.


Normally, a Chalazion starts as a solid bump or cyst beneath the eyelid skin.

Chalazia do not hurt habitually like sties.

They develop more gradually than sties, but if a Chalazion becomes bigger, it will affect the eyesight.

The irritation and puffiness may extend to the area adjoining the eye.

Chalazia habitually heal within one or two months without a treatment.


Diagnosing a Sty and a Chalazion can be decided by closely probing the eyelid. If there is a hard bump within the eyelid, the physician will most likely diagnose it as a Chalazion, or else, it may be confirmed as a sty.


In some cases, treatment for a sty and a Chalazion may differ if they do not respond to hot compresses.

In the case of a sty, it can be cut by means of a pointed, fine-tipped blade. Then, it can be treated with systemic antibiotics, such as erythromycin or dicloxacillin. Treatment of an internal sty is oral antibiotics and cut and drainage, if required. Usually, topical antibiotics are ineffective in healing a sty.

In the case of a Chalazion, if it is large, ugly, and continues in excess of several weeks in spite of conservative treatment, cut and curettage, or intrachalazion corticosteroid treatment is recommended.

Initially, Sties and Chalazia cause eyelid edema and hyperemia, bump, and soreness and may be medically indistinguishable for some days. A sty remains aching and localizes to the margin of an eyelid. Hot compresses can accelerate resolution of either disorder. Other treatments for both disorders that may be required comprise incision and, or antibiotics for a sty and intrachalazion corticosteroid treatment for a Chalazion.