A chalazion (sha-LAY-zee-on), is a cyst-like bump in the upper or lower eyelid due to a blocked meibomian (mī-ˈbō-mē-ən) gland. While chalazia (plural) and styes can look similar, they have different causes and characteristics. Styes (also called hordeolum), like chalazia, are characterized by a blocked oil gland; however, unlike chalazia, styes are caused by bacterial infections. This means that they almost always involve redness and soreness, and localized swelling in the eye, which is not typically the case with chalazia. Most often, chalazia do not hurt at all, and fully 25% of them show no symptoms, whatsoever, disappearing without treatment.
However, they can become bothersome if they grow in size; some chalazia can even blur vision because they distort the shape of the eye. Because they have no infectious element, chalazia tend to take longer to resolve, sometimes up to several months; whereas styes typically swell for about 3 days before they break open and drain, healing within a week.
Some chalazia do act more like styes, becoming red, swollen, and tender. In these cases, they can be more easily mistaken for styes; however, there are other characteristics distinguishing the two: Chalazia tend to develop farther from the edge of the eyelid than styes; they also grow more slowly than styes, and typically larger; lastly, styes almost always look like a pimple, and have a small white dot in their center, signaling an infection.
- Coriander seeds are believed to be one of the most beneficial home remedies for a stye. Add one teaspoon of coriander seeds to a cup of water and bring to a boil. Use the solution to cleanse the eyes three times daily.
- Alum works well as a cure for a stye. Add a couple of alum granules to one cup of water and use the solution to wash the affected eye.
- Cucumber is a soothing home remedy for styes. Place slices of chilled cucumber over the infected eyelid to reduce swelling and soreness.
- You can also apply tomato slices to the affected area. (Make sure to use the dense, or fleshy, part of a tomato and remove the seeds.)
- Brewed black tea bags. Brew yourself a cup of plain black tea, preferably organic, and then squeeze and place the wet tea bag over the closed eyelid for about ten minutes. Tea contains tannins that will help provide relief from a stye. Note: black tea contains the most tannin of any type of tea; however, green tea can be used if you don’t have black tea.
- Prepare a paste of raw, grated potato and a little water, add to a clean cloth and place the cloth over the affected eyes. This helps to alleviate pain and swelling.
- Add a handful of acacia leaves (which can be purchased online) to two cups of boiling water. Dip a clean washcloth in the solution and use it as a compress on the affected eye. This helps to alleviate pain.
- Turmeric is a popular antiseptic home remedy. Add a teaspoon of turmeric powder to two cups of water and bring to a boil. Continue to boil until the solution reduces to half. Strain it until the water runs clear (rinsing the strainer between each use), and apply as eye drops twice or three times a day.
- Dandelion tea serves as an effective anti-bacterial eye wash. Steep the tea or bags for 5-6 minutes, and allow to cool to a warm, or room, temperature.
- Soak a clove in water until it is hydrated and gently rub against the affected eyelid. This will help to reduce the pain.
- Aloe vera gel is a popular treatment for styes. Extract the pulpy gel from a cleaned aloe leaf by slitting it lengthwise. You can remove the gel from the leaf or rub the moist pulpy side of the leaf directly over the infected eyelid.
- Add some salt to warm water, allow it to cool slightly and then soak a cotton ball in it. Dab the cotton ball over the affected eye. Use a fresh cotton ball each time.
- Add some cleaned, fresh parsley leaves to a bowl and pour boiling water over it. Steep it for a few minutes, allowing the solution to cool down a bit. Then dip a clean cloth into the solution, ringing out excess water over sink, and place the cloth over your closed eyelid. Repeat the treatment before going to bed at night. This will help to reduce swelling and tenderness.
Marc Grossman, Doctor of Optometry and New York State Licensed Acupuncturist is author of several books, including Natural Eye Care – Your Guide to Healthy Vision. Since 1980 Dr. Marc Grossman has helped many people maintain healthy vision and even improve eyesight. He is best described as a Holistic Eye Doctor, dedicated to helping people with such conditions ranging from myopia and dry eyes to potentially vision threatening diseases as macular degeneration and glaucoma. His combined multi-disciplinary approach using nutrition, eye exercises, lifestyle changes and Chinese Medicine provides him with a wide array of tools and approaches to tackle difficult eye problems. Dr. Grossman founded the Rye Learning Center in 1980, a multidisciplinary center for learning problems, in 1996 co-founded Integral Health Associates in New Paltz, New York, and in 1999 co-founded Natural Eye Care, Inc. For more information go to www.naturaleyecare.com or call 845-255-8222.