Chalazions and styes (sties)

My eight-year-old daughter has a chalazion on her right eyelid. She has had one before, but the chalazion was very small and disappeared on its own within two weeks. It has returned, and is now quite big. Is there any way of curing chalazions without surgical incision, or preventing them altogether?

A chalazion indicates inflammation of the small glands that line the underside of the eyelid and are responsible for producing the film of tears on the eye itself.

At first, the child or parents may notice a small, non-tender, firm lump in the upper or lower lid. A secondary infection can sometimes occur. Some chalazions resolve spontaneously, but others may require warm compresses, antibiotic drops or surgical removal. A large chalazion may affect vision, and in that case should be surgically removed.

A sty (hordeolum), on the other hand, is an acute infection of one of the small glands, usually at the edge of the eyelid; the lump in this case is painful and red. Recurrences of styes are not uncommon. Children with allergies who often have itchy eyes may have recurrent styes.

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