What is a chalazion?
A chalazion is a red bump on your eyelid. It is sometimes called an eyelid cyst or a meibomian cyst. It slowly forms when an oil gland (called a meibomian) becomes blocked.
At first, the chalazion may be painful, but after a little time, it usually doesn’t hurt. A chalazion usually forms on the upper eyelids but may occasionally form on the lower eyelid.
Ordinarily, chalazia (the plural of chalazion) develop in adults between the ages of 30 and 50. They are not common in children, but they can happen.
Is a chalazion a stye?
A chalazion is not a stye, but it can form because of a stye. Styes are bacterial infections that cause the gland to swell. Styes can be painful. A chalazion generally isn’t painful and appears farther back on the eyelid.
Symptoms and Causes
What causes chalazia?
Chalazia may develop when something blocks a small oil gland in the eyelid. These glands help keep the eye moist. A blocked gland begins retaining oil and swells. Eventually, the fluid will drain, and you may have a hard lump on your eyelid.
Some additional causes of chalazia are:
- Rosacea (a skin condition that causes redness and acne).
- Chronic blepharitis, eyelid inflammation (redness, swelling and irritation).
- Seborrheic dermatitis (red, dry, flaky and itchy skin).
- Tuberculosis (TB).
- Viral infections.
What are the symptoms of a chalazion?
When you have a chalazion, you will notice the following symptoms:
- Painless bump in your eyelid, usually on the upper lid.
- Mild irritation, causing your eyes to water.
- Blurred vision from larger chalazia that push on the eyeball.
Diagnosis and Tests
How is a chalazion diagnosed?
You will usually see an eye specialist when you have a chalazion. You might see an optometrist or an ophthalmologist. These healthcare providers can examine the chalazion and offer treatment options.
When you see the eye specialist, you should expect:
- Health history: Give your complete health history. This information can help your provider find underlying issues that could be contributing to the formation of a chalazion.
- External eye exam: Your provider will examine your eye, eyelid, eyelashes and skin texture.
- Thorough eyelid exam: Eye specialists shine a bright light and use magnification to look at the base of your eyelashes. They also check the oil glands’ openings.
Management and Treatment
How do you treat a chalazion?
In most cases, you can treat a chalazion at home. Most chalazia go away in a month or less.
First, never push on a chalazion or try to pop it. You can injure your eye. Instead, for home treatment, try:
- Warm compresses: Wet a clean washcloth with warm water. Hold it on the affected eye for 15 minutes. Do this at least three times a day to help the blocked oil gland open up.
- Massage: Gently massage the eyelid a few times a day. Massage for a few minutes each day, using light to medium pressure. Gentle massage can help open the blocked oil gland.
- Good hygiene: Don’t wear eye makeup while you have a chalazion. After the chalazion drains, keep the area clean. Follow good eye health practices, and avoid touching your eyes.
If the chalazion doesn’t go away, you should seek help from an eye specialist. The chalazion may need to have the fluid drained through a small incision. You may also need an injection of steroids to reduce swelling and inflammation.
Can a chalazion be prevented?
You may be able to avoid getting a chalazion by following good hygiene. Some essential elements of good hygiene include:
- Hand-washing: Wash your hands thoroughly and often. Before you touch your eyes, make sure to wash your hands.
- Contact lens care: Wash your hands before removing contact lenses. Make sure to thoroughly clean your contacts with a disinfectant and lens cleaning solution. Always throw daily and limited-time contacts away on schedule.
- Face-washing: Wash your face daily to remove dirt and makeup before going to bed. Your healthcare provider may recommend cleaning your eyelids with a special scrub or baby shampoo, especially if you’re prone to blepharitis.
- Makeup hygiene: Throw away all of your old or expired makeup. Be sure to replace mascara and eye shadow every two to three months. Also, never share or use another person’s makeup.
Outlook / Prognosis
How long will I have a chalazion?
With proper home management, a chalazion should heal in a week. If left untreated, it can take four to six weeks for the chalazion to heal.
Will I get more chalazia?
If you have one chalazion, you may get another. Always practice good hygiene to help prevent future chalazia.
When should I see an eye doctor?
If you have a chalazion that doesn’t go away with home treatment, see an eye specialist. They will be able to examine the eye and offer additional treatment options. You should also see your healthcare provider if you have recurring chalazia (eyelid bumps that come back).
A note from Cleveland Clinic
Keeping your eyes healthy is important for your vision and quality of life. Sometimes, though, things like styes and chalazia happen. While these troublesome eye problems can be unsightly, they are very treatable at home. Talk to your healthcare provider about things you can do to avoid these pesky eye problems.
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