Eyelid Lumps and Bumps
Information about different types of eyelid bump and what can cause them.
What is this bump on my eyelid?
There are several types of lumps or bumps that can develop around the eyes. The most common type of eyelid bump is a chalazion, or stye. Other bumps that can form around the eyes are xanthalasmas, papillomas, or cysts. Dr. Linder can provide the appropriate treatment or surgical intervention for any lump or bump you may have around your eyes.
What is a stye?
A chalazion, commonly refered to as a stye, is a blocked oil gland on the eyelid. A stye will appear as a red lump on the eyelid. It may have a small spot of pus in the middle of the bump. It is likely to irritate the eye, making it feel itchy or as if there is something in the eye.
A stye may cause the edges of the eyelid to become crusty, and a person's eyes may water a lot. In some cases, the entire eyelid may swell up. A person who has a stye may also be more sensitive to light.
A stye can develop without showing any symptoms. The eyelid bump may become swollen or tender. If the lump is particularly large, it may press on the eyeball, causing blurry eyesight.
A chalazion is a swollen bump on the eyelid. It happens when the eyelid’s oil gland clogs up. It may start as a small lump, and may grow over time. At first, you might not know you have a chalazion as there is little or no pain. But as it grows, your eyelid may get red, swollen, and sometimes tender to touch.
When to see a doctor
A person can usually treat a stye at home (examples below), but they may need to see a doctor if it is especially painful or bothersome. Someone may wish to seek medical advice for a stye that:
- Does not show signs of healing within 2–3 weeks
- Is particularly painful
- Is very swollen or causing problems with eyesight
People can treat a chalazion at home. They should be aware of any changes in the condition and may wish to see a doctor if:
- Their eye becomes more red and sore
- Their vision is blurred
- Redness and swelling spreads
You can treat a stye at home, but may need to see a physician if the condition does not improve or worsens.
The first treatment to try at home is a warm compress. This can help to speed up healing and reduce swelling of an eyelid bump.
To apply a warm compress, a person should:
- Make sure that their hands are clean
- Get warm water running in the sink and wet a wash cloth with the warm water
- Hold the compress to the eyelid bump until it cools and then reheat cloth and apply again to the eyelid
- Continue the back and forth process of applying the compress and reheating the cloth for several minutes
- Repeat three to five times per day using a clean washcloth each time
A warm compress can help to open and drain a blocked oil gland that is causing a chalazion.
The eyelids should be cleansed with baby shampoo or lid scrubs which are available over the counter at most pharmacies.
A chalazion is not usually painful, but some people do experience some discomfort. A person may choose to take an over-the-counter painkiller if necessary.
In the unlikely event that an eyelid bump becomes infected, a person may need antibiotics. This may be in the form of eye drops or ointment. If the infection has spread, then a person might need to take an antibiotic medication by mouth.
If a chalazion is very swollen, a doctor may treat it with an injection of a steroid medication. A doctor will likely only do this if the swelling is affecting someone's eyesight.
Sometimes, minor surgery is carried out to drain an eyelid bump if it does not go away with treatment. This procedure will usually take place in a doctor's office.
The doctor will use a small, sterile needle to drain the lump. They may also remove the eyelash closest to the eyelid bump.
People should not burst or pierce an eyelid bump at home as this can cause more irritation or spread infection.
A person with a chalazion or stye should take care not to touch the area too much. It is usually a good idea to avoid wearing eye makeup or contact lenses until the eyelid bump has healed.
Washing hands before touching the eyes and removing makeup properly before going to bed may help to prevent bumps on the eyelids.
It is not always possible to prevent styes and chalazia, but keeping the eyes clean might help to stop them forming.
Help to keep eyes clean by:
- washing the face daily
- removing makeup before going to bed
- washing hands before touching the eyes or the area around them
- not sharing towels
A person who has had a chalazion in the past, or who has the eye condition blepharitis, may be advised to clean their eyelids daily. This can help to stop a chalazion developing.
To clean the eyelids, people should:
- wipe the base of the eyelashes with a clean washcloth dipped in warm water
- use warm compresses on eyelids, keeping eyes closed
- dry thoroughly
Baby shampoo can also be used around eyelids if needed.
Although an eyelid bump can be irritating, it is not usually harmful. Gently holding a warm compress against the eye can often help the lump to heal, and it should usually disappear within a few weeks.
If a person keeps getting a stye or chalazion, they may wish to seek medical advice. A doctor can arrange to take a tissue sample to check that there is no underlying eye problem.
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