What Is a Chalazion?
A chalazion is a small swelling or lump on your eyelid because of 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. You can get them on both eyes at once. Chalazia often go away and come back.
A chalazion starts with a small area that may be red, swollen, and 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
You have glands throughout your body. They make things that your cells, tissues, and organs need to work the way they should.
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.
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 like seborrheic dermatitis or acne rosacea
- Another health condition such as diabetes
- Had a chalazion before
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 material stuck in the gland.
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 rule out other eye problems. Treating conditions like blepharitis and meibomian gland dysfunction can keep chalazia from coming back.
Chalazia often go away in days or weeks without treatment. But certain things might speed 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 give you 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 area 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 to 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.
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 to 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.