What Is a Chalazion?
A chalazion is a small swelling or lump on your eyelid caused by a blocked gland. They’re called chalazia if you have more than one. A chalazion is one of the most common types of eyelid lumps.
Chalazia are most likely to happen on your upper eyelid. However, you can get them on both eyes at once. Chalazia often go away and come back.
Chalazion vs. stye
It can be hard to tell a chalazion from a stye, another kind of eyelid bump that’s caused by an infection.
Styes happen along the edge of your eyelid, sometimes in the base of an eyelash, but chalazia are usually toward the middle of the lid. A stye is more likely to be painful. It also tends to have a yellowish spot at the center that may burst after a few days.
A stye can become a chalazion if the infection goes away and leaves some material stuck in the gland.
A chalazion starts with a small area that may be red, swollen, sore, or painful when touched. After a few days, the pain usually goes away, and a bump or lump remains.
You may also have:
- Watery eyes
- Mild eye irritation
- Blurry vision
How long does a chalazion last?
A chalazion usually doesn’t stay for long. With some care at home, your chalazion will likely be gone within a week. Even if you don’t do anything, it should still go away in about 4-6 weeks. But if you’re worried your chalazion isn’t going away or it’s bothering you, talk with your doctor.
You have glands throughout your body. They make things that are essential for your cells, tissues, and organs to work properly.
The meibomian glands in your upper and lower eyelids make oil that mixes with your tears to moisten and protect your eyes. If the oil gets too thick or if the glands are blocked because of inflammation, you may get a chalazion.
Sometimes chalazia are related to or caused by other health conditions. These include:
- Eyelid inflammation (blepharitis)
- Seborrheic dermatitis
- Viral infections
Rarely, an infection can cause a chalazion.
Chalazion Risk Factors
Chalazia happen more often in adults than children. They might be more likely if you have:
- Eyelid inflammation (blepharitis)
- A skin condition such as seborrheic dermatitis or acne rosacea
- Another health condition such as diabetes
- Had a chalazion before
There are no special tests for chalazia. Your doctor will probably ask about your symptoms, past eye problems, and your health history in general.
If you get chalazia more than once, your doctor may recommend that you see an eye specialist such as an ophthalmologist or optometrist. They’ll want to check for other eye problems by performing an external eye exam and an eyelid exam to check the oil glands at the base of your eyelashes. Treating eye conditions such as blepharitis and meibomian gland dysfunction can keep chalazia from coming back.
Will a hardened chalazion go away?
The short answer is yes. It’s normal for your chalazion to feel hard. They happen when oil gets blocked and hardens. Most of the time, they’ll go away on their own. You can also take steps to soften the hardened oil and help the bump go away faster. In rare cases, you may need your doctor to remove it.
Chalazia often go away in days or weeks without treatment. But certain things might speed up the process.
See your doctor if you think you have a chalazion. They may want to check it and tell you how to take care of it to help it heal. They can also suggest certain eye drops or creams to use.
If other treatments don’t work, your doctor can prescribe medicines or steroid injections to help clear up the problem. In severe cases, they might need to numb the area and cut it open to drain it.
One remedy is to apply warm, moist heat to the chalazion with a clean washcloth. Your doctor or nurse can give you instructions about how often to do it and for how long.
It might also help clean your eyelids with a mild soap, such as baby shampoo or over-the-counter eyelid scrubs.
Gently massage the area to help open the gland. But never try to squeeze or pop a chalazion. That might make the problem worse.
If your chalazion doesn’t go away or it gets bigger, you might want to think about surgery to remove it. Most people won’t need surgery. But if you’ve had your chalazion for more than a couple of months or if it’s growing in size, check with your doctor to see if you should have it removed.
Chalazion surgery doesn’t take long. Your doctor can likely do it in the office in about 15-20 minutes.
First, they’ll numb your eyelid. Then they’ll make a tiny cut in your chalazion, which will allow any fluid to drain. Your doctor can also remove the hardened oil inside your eyelid. You might have some soreness, but you won’t usually need any stitches.
Your doctor might put a patch on your eye. You may use an antibiotic cream or antibiotic eye drops to make sure the incision doesn’t get infected. Other than that, you can go about your normal activities right away after surgery.
Ask your doctor before surgery if they will remove your chalazion from under your eyelid to avoid a scar. Doctors can often remove chalazia this way. If they have to remove it from the outside, you might end up with a small scar.
Chalazia usually go away on their own. But if yours doesn’t, your doctor might want to make a small incision or cut in the bump. By opening your chalazion up, any fluid inside it can drain out.
Chalazion Healing Stages
A chalazion will start out small. You might not even notice it at first. It may look like a little, red, or swollen spot on your eyelid. After several days, or perhaps a week, you might see that it looks bigger. At this stage, it shouldn’t hurt, but it will be easy for you and others to see.
A chalazion can grow quickly to about the size of a pea. Usually, they’ll stop growing on their own. Most chalazia will clear up and heal in a matter of weeks.
There’s no sure way to prevent chalazia. You can lower your odds of getting them by keeping your eyelids clean:
- Wash your hands often, especially before touching your eyes and handling contact lenses.
- Wash your eyelids before you go to bed to remove makeup and other things that can clog your glands.
- Replace your eye makeup every 2 or 3 months. Don’t share makeup with anyone else.
- If you wear contact lenses, make sure to clean them well with a disinfecting lens cleaning solution.
- If your contacts are disposable, make sure you only wear them for the recommended amount of time.
- Ask your doctor if you should carefully scrub your eyelids as part of your normal routine, especially if you’ve had a chalazion more than once.
When to Call a Doctor
If your chalazion isn’t going away as expected with steps you’re taking at home, see an eye doctor for advice. Your doctor may suggest other steps. They can tell you if you should have your chalazion drained or removed with surgery.
Let your doctor know if your chalazion goes away and then comes back.
A chalazion is a small, red bump that can form when oil glands on your eyelid get clogged. Most of the time, chalazia will go away on their own. If you have a chalazion that doesn't heal within 4-6 weeks, talk to your doctor. Never try to pop it on your own.
What triggers a chalazion?
A chalazion is a type of cyst. It forms when an oil gland in your eyelid gets blocked. As your blocked gland fills with fluid and oil, it makes a hard lump.
When should I be worried about a chalazion?
It might bother you to have a bump on your eyelid. But a chalazion isn’t something you need to worry a lot about. A chalazion most often will go away on its own or with easy home care. If you have concerns or your chalazion isn’t going away after about a month, be sure to talk with your doctor.
Will a chalazion burst?
Your chalazion isn’t likely to burst on its own. You also should never try to squeeze or pop it. Popping a chalazion could damage your eyelid and make infection more likely. If you have a chalazion that isn’t going away on its own, ask your doctor if you should take other steps or think about surgery.