Blepharitis, Chalazion, Stye: A Cause of Eyelid Irritation, Swelling and Redness

Blepharitis is a common and persistent inflammation of the eyelids which can cause a chalazion or stye to form. Symptoms can include irritation, burning, watering and occasionally, a red eye.

This condition frequently occurs in people who have a tendency towards oily skin, dandruff, or dry eyes. Blepharitis can occur at any age and can persist as a chronic condition.


Bacteria reside on the surface of everyone’s skin, but in certain individuals they thrive in the skin at the base of the eyelashes.

The resulting irritation, sometimes associated with over-activity of nearby oil glands, causes dandruff-like scales and particles to form along the lashes and eyelid margins.

Sometimes the scaling or bacteria produce only minor irritation and itching, but they may cause redness, stinging or burning. Some people may develop sensitivity to the scales or to the bacteria which surround them. This can lead to a more serious complication-inflammation of the eye tissues, particularly the cornea (the clear front window of the eye).

Blepharitis Treatment :

Blepharitis is a condition that may not be cured, but can be controlled with a few simple daily measures:

Once a day, wet a washcloth with comfortably warm water, wrings it out, and places over the closed eyelids for a minute.

       Rewet it as it cools, two or three times. This will soften and loosen scales and debris. More importantly, it helps liquefy the oily secretions from the eyelids’ oil glands that help prevent the development of a chalazion, an inflamed lump in an eyelid oil gland.  A potato is often a good hot compress; place it in the microwave to heat it up.

It this does not work you may require antibiotic treatment.

      With your finger covered with a thin washcloth, cotton swab, or commercial lint-free pad, gently scrub the base of the lashes


Eyelid Massage, Eyelid Wash to reduce severity and attacks of Blepharitis and recurrence of Chalazion or Styes:

about 15 seconds per lid.

      If an antibiotic ointment has been prescribed, apply a dab at the base of the lashes (usually at bedtime), using your fingertip or a cotton swab.

Simple, daily hygienic measures will minimize the following additional medications that might be needed to control Blepharitis and its symptoms:

 Artificial tears may be used to relieve symptoms of dry eye. (These are available without a prescription.)

      Steroid eye drops may be used short-term to decrease inflammation.

      Antibiotic ointment or antibiotic pills may be used to decrease the bacterial content of the eyelids. Medications alone are not sufficient; the application of warmth and detailed cleansing of the lashes daily is the key to controlling Blepharitis.  Regular massage and warm compresses can help in drainage of the sebaceous secretion and therefore decrease occurrence or recurrence of chalazion. Maintaining good lid hygiene may also be beneficial.

Stye – Chalazion- Hordeolum


Management of Stye and Chalazion:

Small, asymptomatic chalazion can be left untreated.

Conservative treatment including lid massage, a warm compress and steroid eyedrops can also be used.

Medical therapy

Oral tetracyclines (such as doxycycline) can be considered in recurrent cases. Other options include erythromycin ointment or Azithromycin gel.


Surgical treatment may be considered in case of unresolved chalazion or symptomatic chalazion. Incision and drainage is the treatment of choice.

Local anaethestics are injected to the area surrounding the bump.

The eyelid is then everted with special eyelid holder and incision is made. Contents of chalazion are removed. Since the operation is done on the inside of the eyelid, no scar will be seen.

Surgical follow up

The lid may still take several weeks to completely resolve.


Excellent but recurrence is common.