My eyelid is swelling up but I don't know if it's a Stye or a Chalazion.
December 2, 2006 12:19 PM   Subscribe

My eyelid is swelling up but I don't know if it's a Stye or a Chalazion.

I was driving in my car and felt something against my eyelashes, so I looked in the mirror and there was a little pea sized soft puffy bump on my lower left eyelid. As I watched over the next ten minutes it doubled, then tippled, then quadrupled in size. I almost went straight to a doctor but my friend assured me it was just a stye.

Anyway by evening it had covered most of my lower eyelid, and waking up this morning the swelling seems to have subsided, and it's settled covering the entire lower eyelid and eye socket area.

I plan to go to a doctor, the only doctor available to me is the health clinic at my university and they are quacks who have misdiagnosed me twice before, so I don't have a load of confidence in them and don't like to see them without an opinion as to what I have.

I don't think it's a stye because it's so spread over the eyelid, not red or infected looking at all, and not at all itchy or painful.

From that I would think it was a Chalazion, except those are supposed to be hard and this thing couldn't be more soft.

Have you had one or the other of those problems yet had it match my symptoms? Had something else that matched my simptoms?

If it matters I have also had a nasty cough all week.
posted by shanevsevil to Health & Fitness (17 answers total)
I had something similar a few years ago, and the thing that really worked for it (if you have the same as I had, which was a monster stye) was a very, very soft wash rag and baby shampoo. Very lightly wash it with warm water every few hours, rubbing the rag lightly across the eyelid horizontally. If it doesn't start getting better within 12 or so hours, you should probably go see a doctor.
posted by chimaera at 12:23 PM on December 2, 2006

A stye (Hordeolum) has bacteria and drain pus; chalazions don't--they're just meibobian cysts that are plugged up. Either way, warm moist compresses to the area are the treatment of choice until you can see a doctor, since this isn't medical advice.
posted by gramcracker at 12:35 PM on December 2, 2006

Response by poster: I should mention that there's been no pus or crustiness that I've seen. Still not sure.
posted by shanevsevil at 12:41 PM on December 2, 2006

Re-reading your question: if it's truly involving your eye socket, you really need to see a doctor immediately. I'm still confused as to your diagnostic quandry, if it's either a stye or a chalazion, the primary treatment is the same.
posted by gramcracker at 12:46 PM on December 2, 2006

Response by poster: Oh don't be alarmed, I worded that really poorly. I just mean sub-eyelid eye area, not as in the socket with my eye.
Maybe I am being a little alarmist here but I just like to be sure about things before I visit the student health center (or as I like to call it "The Quack Shack").
posted by shanevsevil at 12:52 PM on December 2, 2006

Eeek, I've never had a stye that big. I'd go with the warm compresses until you can get to the doctor. He might give you antibiotics or antibacterial drops.
posted by mostlymartha at 12:56 PM on December 2, 2006

Also, is it possible that you're having an allergic reaction to something? Either way, if you're not seeing serious improvement post haste, go to a doctor.
posted by chimaera at 1:05 PM on December 2, 2006

The speed with which it happened makes me think your immune system is doing something strange. Do you have a history of allergies or autoimmune problems?

Something like this happened to an allergy-prone friend who had been bitten by an insect or spider on her eyelid.
posted by jamjam at 1:07 PM on December 2, 2006

Doctor, now. It's your eye.

I understand your reservations about previous problems, I think most people who have been to uni have horror stories about what is often locally referred to as the Student Death Center. But look, it sounds kind of infected and they will probably give you some sort of antibiotic, local or oral or both. (As gramcracker points out, the treatment is likely to be similar regardless of the exact organism.) You need to get started on this right away.

(Real long shot, you haven't been exposed to anyone who had a smallpox vaccination lately?)

I am only qualified to discuss this from the vantage point of an eye owner, obviously. / >boilerplate
posted by unrepentanthippie at 1:13 PM on December 2, 2006

I see you are in Houston, so your bugs aren't frozen. If you think it might be a bug bite or an allergy, you could try a couple of generic Benadryl.
posted by unrepentanthippie at 1:56 PM on December 2, 2006

(speaking as another victim of university health services)
Go now for a preliminary diagnosis, but ask to get an "emergency" booking with an appropriate specialist affiliated with the university during the week.

Where by "emergency" it means "when they're coming in already, but it's a last-minute appointment reserved for people who really need in the schedule and didn't know about it until today."

Even if the first person you see is less than skilled, the specialists tend to be Real Doctors who come to the university for a day or two each week and spend the rest of their time at Real Hospitals.
posted by whatzit at 3:57 PM on December 2, 2006

is the irritation near your eyelashes? it may be blepharitis. as another poster suggested, first put a warm compress on the area for a few minutes. then using your (CLEAN!) fingers, push down very firmly on the affected area, almost as if you were trying to squeeze out the bad stuff. top finish by washing the area with some baby shampoo (which you have halved with water - dont use straight shampoo).

this website is really helpful -

of course if its not blepharits, then... ignore all this! but i had a similar mysterious-eye-infection a few months ago and i followed these three steps and it cleared up almost immediately. (of course, IANAD, so if symptoms persist, get it professionally looked at)
posted by silverstatue at 4:23 PM on December 2, 2006 [1 favorite]

um ignore the word "top" in the first paragraph. dont know where that came from! should read "finish by washing the area with some baby shampoo "
posted by silverstatue at 4:24 PM on December 2, 2006

Response by poster: Well that was strange. I still have no idea what it was, but after reaching almost the size of a half of a golf ball... it quickly shrank and is no longer visible.

I'm glad it's gone but now I'm even more mystified than before as to what it could have been. I've looked at photos of all the things people here were talking about and it didn't look like any of them. It just looked like a puffy lump that sort of spread out... No redness, no pain...

What the heck can go from nothing to golf ball to nothing in one day anyhow?

Thanks for your advice everyone!
posted by shanevsevil at 5:59 PM on December 2, 2006

For reasons doctors cannot explain, I'm excessively prone to these. I can't count how many styes I've had that turned into chalazions for later removal. However, I have learned how to keep styles from turning hard.

Drink a lot of water as it starts. Take aspirin. Don't just use hot compresses, actually get a moisture-safe heating pad and leave it on your face. You'll be more or less immobile or bored during this time period, so I suggest putting in a DVD you can watch with one eye as this all goes on. Do it in the morning. Do it just before bed. Do it a couple more times during the day if at all possible. I have some eye-friendly topical antibiotics I begin dumping on there immediately.

It may eventually begin "pointing," which is to say that a bottom part of your eyelid will begin pointing out and a tiny whitehead may appear. Then its at a point where it really wants to drain.

Once it hardens up into a chalazion, maybe your body will ignore it, or maybe you'll need some minor surgery for it (ask me if you're interested in the details).

The clean washcloth with the baby shampoo is great preventative maintenance. New washcloth every time.
posted by adipocere at 6:03 PM on December 2, 2006 [1 favorite]

Please don't ask why this most elementary of explanations did not occur to me before, but could you have had a blocked tear duct, so that tears ended up under the skin of your eyelid instead of in your eye?
posted by jamjam at 6:06 PM on December 5, 2006

Here is a picture of a baby with a blocked tear duct.

Also, my statement just above should read: "so that tears ended up under the skin of your eyelid instead of draining down into your nose." I wonder if whatever gave you your cough could have blocked the tear duct outlet at the level your nose.
posted by jamjam at 9:58 AM on December 6, 2006

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