Bumps & Lumps of the Eye (Styes & Chalazion): An Integrative Medical Approach

A stye is an infection of the eyelid caused by Staphylococcus bacteria. It tends to be smaller and more superficial than a meibomian gland abscess (chalazion). A stye can result in swelling on the inside or outside of the eyelid or cause a general eyelid inflammation. If the external portion of the eyelid is swollen, the stye involves inflammation of a hair follicle and its associated glands. Swelling on the underside of the eyelid involves the oil glands (meibomian glands). The swelling increases for about a week or so and then generally begins to subside, sometimes rupturing. The fluid that seeps out from a ruptured stye can be blotted away gently with a clean white cloth and is nothing to worry about. People with very oily eyelids or blepharitis (oily eyelids that can become infected) can have recurring styes.

Chalazion is a common condition that is essentially an abscess of the meibomian gland (the oil gland of the lid margin) caused by infection with Staphyloccoccus aureus.  A chalazion is easily mistaken for a stye, which is a chronic inflammation (a bump) on the eyelid. A chalazion is larger than a stye, however. It is found inside the eyelid itself. A chalazion points either toward the outside of the eyelid or toward the inside (toward the eye).

Conventional Treatment

Hot compresses and antibiotic eyedrops or ointments are used to attack the staph infection.

Complementary Approach


  1. Wash the eyelids carefully with gentle soap and warm compresses several times a day. This prevents the excess oil secreted by the hair follicle glands from providing fertile ground for the growth of staph use  a lid scrub with hypochlorus acid
  2. Chamomile compresses. Boil chamomile tea and let it cool slightly. Put a clean washcloth in the tea and apply it to the eyelid, or apply a teabag after seeping directly to the eyelid.
  3. Take echinacea, garlic and goldenseal

Oriental Medicine Approach:

In TCM, styes and chalazium  are considered the result of an  infection generated by the environment or an internal imbalance from a dysfunction of the spleen and stomach meridians. When the spleen and stomach are not working properly, the ability of the body to transport fluids in the eyes stagnates and styes and chalazium scan result

Herbal remedies

Burdock root (Arctium lappa) – a liver tonic and lymphatic cleanser. Burdock root is used for skin conditions such as styes and boils.

Echinacea (Echinacea angustifolia)one of the most popular immune boosters. Echinacea not only supports the body’s ability to fight its own battles by enhancing immune response, but it has its own antibacterial and antiseptic qualities.

Forsythia (Forsythia suspensa) a “cooling” herb, shown to inhibit viral and bacterial infections, including those caused by Staphylococcus, Streptococcus and Salmonella.

Goldenseal (Hydrastis canadensis) potent antibiotic and antiseptic.

Honeysuckle (Lonicerae japonicae) clears the “heat” of infection and inflammation and alleviates the swelling of styes. A natural antibiotic, honeysuckle has been shown to inhibit viral and bacterial infections, including Staphylococcus, Streptococcus and Salmonella.

Chrysanthemum flower (Chrysanthemum morifoli) – herb with antibiotic properties. Chrysanthemum is used in relieving heat in the eyes.

Eyebright (Euphrasia officinalis) – good for internal and external inflammatory conditions of the eyes.

Chamomile (Matricaria chamomilla) good for inflammatory conditions.

Red Raspberry Leaf (Rubus idaeus) – an astringent herb that helps break up mucus in the eyes.

Calendula (Calendula officinalis) – good for inflammatory conditions, used for external eye conditions.

For more information on a Integrative Medical Approach to Styes and chalazium, see Dr Grossman’s website www.naturaleyecare.com


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.

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