Chalazion - Bump on Upper Eyelid

You wake up, go to the bathroom, look in the mirror, and there it is - that annoying red lump that ruins your appearance. And the worst part is, you can't even hide it with eye makeup. Ever been in a similar situation? Perhaps it is happening to you right now, which is why you clicked on this post?

Ok, first of all, don't panic. The good news is that those red bumps that sometimes appear on the upper or lower eyelid are generally harmless. The bad news - you will not be able to get rid of it very quickly, so you might want to carry a pair of sunglasses with you.

So what should you do? What is that red bump on your lid and how do you treat it? We've got the answers for you in the text below.

What is a chalazion and what does it look like?

A chalazion is basically a cyst caused by an obstruction of a gland in the eyelid, usually the upper lids. This is simply a clogged pore, typically filled with fluid. This looks like a pimple and can range in size from 2 to 8 millimetres (Please do not try to pop it, ever!).

The chalazion can feel uncomfortable, but it is not a painful lump. It is also important to note that the fluid is not infected. However, it could become infected and at this point, you will need to see a doctor. Such an infection can cause pain, redness and swelling of the whole eyelid. If this happens, you need to seek medical attention right away.

As long as there is no infection and no severe symptoms, eyelid bumps do not pose a health risk and are not dangerous. They may even go away on their own. Yet, one of the main problems is that it often takes a very long time to disappear.

What causes chalazion on eyelid?

A red bump on the eyelid is normally caused by a blockage of the meibomian gland. This is an oil gland located near the eyelashes. The function of the meibomian glands is to moisturize the eyes and prevent the tears from drying out too rapidly. So when this oil gland is clogged, it cannot do its job properly and may cause various problems including stye or chalazion, dry eyes or changes in the tear film and so on.

Ok, we now know that the primary cause of chalazion is a blocked oil gland. But what is actually the reason for this blockage and who may be at risk of experiencing it? Red bumps on the eyelid occur more frequently in people with chronic eyelid inflammation or blepharitis, patients with viral conjunctivitis, or those with inflammatory skin conditions such as acne, rosacea, seborrheic dermatitis.

Furthermore, if you have experienced chalazion once, you are more likely to do so again.

What are the symptoms of a chalazion?

A chalazion looks like a small lump or cyst on the lid. It may arise on both upper and lower eyelids. However, in most cases, it occurs on the upper lids since there are typically more oil glands there than in the lower lids. You may also get it on one or both of your eyes.

What does chalazion look like, and how can you tell if you have it?

Below are a few signs to look for.

  • You have a red bump on your upper/ lower eyelid which is not painful
  • Gradually, the bump gets bigger and more noticeable
  • You feel discomfort and mild irritation in the area
  • A mild sense of heaviness pervades your lids
  • A small amount of swelling is present around the cyst
  • The affected eye looks watery
  • It is also possible to experience blurry vision if your lump is quite large.

In this regard, it is important to note that chalazion has a similar appearance to stye, which makes both eyelid disorders easily confused. Yet, these are two different conditions. Please check the FAQ section below to learn what is the difference between stye and chalazion.

How do you treat a chalazion in the eye?

Many times the red bump on your eyelid will go away without any medical treatment. A few simple techniques at home can help you remove the lump sooner. However, if you continue to experience symptoms, you may want to consider getting medical help. Your doctor may prescribe medications to treat the chalazion. However, if these treatments also fail to yield the desired results, you may be suggested to have surgery.

Here, we will discuss all the treatment options for chalazion.

At-home treatment and management of chalazion

  • Use a warm compress. This method may be beneficial to you if your lump is at its beginning, it is still soft and small. All you need to do is to soak a clean cloth in warm water and place it on the affected lid. Be sure to keep it on for at least 10 minutes. If you can, apply warm compresses several times throughout the day. The hot temperature will encourage liquefaction of the hardened oil and drainage of the blocked gland.
  • Gently massage your eyelids. You can promote drainage by gently massaging the outside of the affected eyelid. This method, however, can be effective in the early stage of the condition, when the bumps are still softer. So what should you do? Gently massage the eyelid starting from the nose side and staying close to the edge of the eyelid. Your finger should touch the lashes. To facilitate the massage, look down for the upper lid and look upwards for the lower lid. Make sure you always wash your hands before you start massaging.
  • Be sure to keep your facial skin clean. Maintaining good hygiene is crucial for the treatment and prevention of chalazion. Make sure you keep your eyes and the surrounding skin clean. Also, it's important not to wear eye makeup when you have a bump on your lid.

Medical treatment options

Some cases of chalazion do not respond to a gentle massage or warm compresses. It may be necessary for you to see an eye doctor to assess the severity of your condition and get advice on the proper treatment. Specialists will often prescribe medication as the first step in the process.

There are several options available to treat red bumps on eyelids, including oral antibiotics, antibiotic ointment, eye drops, anti-inflammatory drugs, steroid injection, etc. If your symptoms don't improve, you might be recommended to get chalazion surgery.

How do you get rid of a chalazion through surgery?

Performing eye surgery

Even though it may sound scary for you to have surgery on such a delicate area as the eyelids, in reality, it is a very simple and straightforward procedure. It is usually done on an outpatient basis and has a pretty quick recovery time. Normally, the procedure is carried out under local anesthesia, which makes it not painful at all.

When is chalazion surgery actually needed?

If you have a persistent bump that is not responding to home treatment or medications, this procedure may be an option. It is also possible for the chalazion to become bigger and cause vision problems, and in such cases, surgery might be required to resolve the issue.

How is the procedure done?

The procedure is simple and doesn't require any special preparations, as we described earlier. It is simply recommended that you stop smoking and taking blood-thinning medications two weeks before surgery. A doctor starts the operation by numbing the eyelid area with an anaesthetic.

After that, a small incision is made on either the front or back of the lid and then a small instrument called a curette is used to remove the chalazion. Incisions can be closed with dissolvable sutures, or if a small bump is removed, the cuts can be left to heal on their own.

What to expect after chalazion surgery?

It is possible to feel mild discomfort in the area on the first day following the procedure. Your eyelid might also be swollen and bruised. You shouldn't be concerned about this as it will clear up in a couple of days. In most cases, the recovery takes around seven days.

Nevertheless, if a larger bump has been removed, you may need a few weeks to recover. You will be prescribed some medications and topical eye ointment to minimize discomfort and risks of getting an infection. Your surgeon will also carefully explain what you should and should not do during recovery.

What doctor performs chalazion surgery?

The procedure should be carried out by a board-certified ophthalmic plastic surgeon (who specializes in plastic and reconstructive surgeries) or by an ophthalmologist (a doctor who specializes in eye and vision care). Professionals with such skills can diagnose and treat the condition.

How is a chalazion diagnosed?

In general, there is no particular test that will indicate whether you have a chalazion. You can expect your doctor to perform a standard eye examination as well as check your skin texture and skin condition. Also, he or she will use a bright light and magnifying glass to examine the base of your eyelashes. Furthermore, you will be asked to describe your symptoms and provide your health history. Using the exam results and the information you provide, the doctor will diagnose you and suggest the best treatment option for you.

Can you prevent a chalazion from developing?

You can take some steps to reduce the risk factors of developing chalazion, but there isn't a sure-fire path to prevention. Here are some tips to avoid getting red bumps on your eyelids.

  • Maintain good hygiene. Keep your face and eyes clean every morning and evening, and wear sunglasses when possible to protect your eyes from dust and air pollution.
  • Avoid touching your eyes or face when your hands have not been properly cleaned
  • Never sleep with eye makeup. You should remove it and thoroughly clean your face before going to bed.
  • Do not use old cosmetic products. Ensure you replace mascara, eye shadow and eye pencil regularly.
  • Keep your contact lenses clean at all times. Also, always wash your hands before putting on or removing contact lenses.

If you develop frequent red bumps or multiple large chalazia, this could indicate you have blepharitis (particularly posterior blepharitis) or meibomian gland dysfunction. If that is the case, you need to visit an eye specialist to see if treatment is necessary to prevent chalazia from developing in a recurrent manner.

Frequently asked questions

Frequently asked questions

How long does it take for an eyelid bump to go away?

It is possible for the red bump to go away within one month, but sometimes it may persist for longer than six months.

Can a chalazion be permanent?

The symptoms of a chalazion can last for months, or even years, but they do not affect the eye permanently. Usually, the bump goes away by itself within a month.

Are chalazions serious?

A chalazion is usually not a serious or dangerous condition. Nonetheless, if the red bum becomes infected then you should seek medical attention.

When should you be worried about a bump on your eyelid?

If your bump causes pain, vision problems, or swelling around your eyes, you should seek immediate medical help.

Can you pop a chalazion?

You should never squeeze the bump or try to pop it because this can be dangerous. If you have persistent chalazion that bothers you, see an eye doctor to get adequate treatment.

What happens if a chalazion is left untreated?

A chalazion may disappear completely without any treatment, but it may take a long time. It is sometimes possible for chalazia to grow larger and if untreated, they can cause discomfort and blurred vision.

What is the difference between stye and chalazia?

A stye is a bacterial infection in the meibomian gland or hair follicle of the eyelashes. The stye generally develops along the eyelid edge. A chalazion is a clog in the meibomian gland, it is not an infection. Another difference between these two conditions is that the stye normally causes pain, whereas chalazion is a painless bump on the eyelid.

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