A chalazion often starts out as a very small, red, tender, swollen area of the eyelid and is generally not an infection. In a few days, it may change to a painless, slow-growing lump the size of a pea and can often be confused with a stye (or hordeolum), which is an infection of an oil gland in the eyelid.
A stye produces a red, swollen, painful lump on the edge or the inside of the eyelid and usually occurs closer to the surface of the eyelid than chalazion. If left untreated, a stye can result in the formation of a chalazion. Do not attempt to squeeze or drain the chalazion as it may require treatment for proper healing.
Causes & risk factors
- Acne rosacea.
- Chronic blepharitis (inflammation of the eyelids, often from excess bacteria).
- Viral infection.
- Rarely chalazions may be an indication of an infection or skin cancer.
- Painless bump or lump in the upper eyelid or, less frequently, in the lower eyelid.
- Caused by a thickening of the fluid in the oil (meibomian) glands of the eyelid.
- Tearing and mild irritation may result as the obstructed glands are needed for healthy tears.
- Blurred vision, if the chalazion is large enough to press against the eyeball.
- More common in adults than children; most frequently occurs in people ages 30-50.
- Typically disappears without treatment within several weeks to a month, although they often recur.
A chalazion is best diagnosed by a doctor of optometry, who can advise treatment options.
Necessary testing might include:
- Patient history to determine symptoms and the presence of any general health problems that may be contributing to the eye problem.
- External examination of the eye, including lid structure, skin texture and eyelash appearance.
- Evaluation of the lid margins, base of the eyelashes and oil gland openings using bright light and magnification.
Most chalazions require minimal medical treatment and clear up on their own in a few weeks to a month.
- Apply warm compresses to the eyelid for 10 to 15 minutes, 4 to 6 times a day for several days. The warm compresses may help soften the hardened oil that is blocking the ducts and allow drainage and healing. Create a warm compress by dipping a clean, soft cloth in warm water and then wringing it out. Remoisten the cloth frequently to keep it wet and warm.
- Gently massage the external eyelids several minutes each day to help promote drainage.
- Once the chalazion drains on its own, keep the area clean, and keep hands away from the eyes. If the chalazion does not drain and heal within a month, contact a doctor of optometry.
Again, do not attempt to squeeze or "pop" the chalazion, as it may inadvertently cause more damage.
If the chalazion does not go away after several weeks, it may require medical treatment, which may include an incision to drain or an injection of steroids to reduce the inflammation and swelling.
The best way to prevent a chalazion is with good hygiene.
- Wash hands before touching around eyes or removing contact lenses.
- Wash face at bedtime to remove dirt and makeup.
- Remove eye makeup before going to bed and replace mascara, eyeliner and eye shadow every 3 months.
- The doctor may recommend gentle eyelid scrubs to prevent chalazions from recurring.
Sourced from the American Optometric Association