Eyelid Bump

Medically Reviewed by Whitney Seltman, OD on April 04, 2022
4 min read

Eyelid bumps come in many forms, including styes, chalazia, xanthelasma, and milia. They might be white, red, or yellow. They don’t usually cause problems, but some can be a sign of a more serious problem.

Here’s how to tell what kind of eyelid bump you have.

  • A stye looks like a pimple or a blister, usually along the outer rim of your eyelid. It’s red and painful to the touch.
  • A chalazion (or chalazia, if there’s more than one) will often grow on the underside of your eyelid, behind your eyelashes, or midway up your eyelid. These are more likely to form on your upper eyelid. A chalazion can look like a stye but may grow larger, up to the size of a pea. It’s also more likely to come back.
  • Xanthelasma are soft yellow collections of plaque under your skin, usually near your nose.
  • A milium (the plural form is milia) is a tiny white cyst. It’s common in children. Milia are also called oil seeds and milk spots.

Common symptoms of eyelid bumps include:

  • Swelling
  • Tenderness
  • Redness
  • Irritation
  • Blurry vision (with large chalazia)



A stye usually stems from an infection in an eyelid oil gland or eyelash follicle. Stress and hormonal changes can also cause it.

A chalazion happens when a tiny part of your eyelid called a meibomian gland becomes blocked. You can also get it from a stye that is no longer infected but has left hardened material stuck in a gland.

Blepharitis, a condition that causes your eyelids to become inflamed, often is linked to styes and chalazia. So is rosacea, a skin condition. Skin cancer also can cause styes and chalazia, though this is rare.

Xanthelasma can be a sign of cholesterol problems. They’re common in people who have a liver disorder called primary biliary cirrhosis. They may also happen in people who have skin conditions such as erythroderma, dermatosis, and contact dermatitis.

Milia happen when dead cells get trapped under your skin. Skin damage can also cause secondary or traumatic milia.

Styes and chalazia usually clear up on their own in a few weeks, but there are ways you can move the process along:

  • Never poke, squeeze, or try to pop a stye or a chalazion. This could cause a more serious problem.
  • Put a warm, damp cloth on your eye several times a day.
  • Massage the swollen area gently to help drain the clogged gland. Remember: gently.
  • Once the bump drains, keep the area clean and keep your hands away from your eyes.
  • Go without eye makeup or contact lenses until the eyelid has healed. (Your contacts may hold bacteria that caused the infection).
  • Clean and disinfect your lenses before using them again, along with any accessories you've used.

Milia usually go away on their own. You shouldn’t try to pop or remove them, either. Use exfoliating treatments like salicylic acid to help get rid of dead cells.

If you have xanthelasma, your doctor should check your cholesterol levels. They might work with you on dietary changes and give you a medication such as a statin. This may help shrink the xanthelasma, but they won’t go away on their own. Your doctor can remove them by freezing or cutting them, or by using a laser or a chemical.

If you have a large, painful stye or chalazion that doesn’t go away, see an eye doctor. They may prescribe an antibiotic to help clear it up.

In severe cases, your doctor can drain the bump and give you antibiotics or a steroid injection to help it heal.

If the bump is an unusual color or seems to be changing color or shape, see your doctor right away.

If you have a lot of milia or if you’re worried about how they look, your doctor can remove them. Talk to your pediatrician if your baby has milia that don’t go away within 3 months.

If you get a lot of styes because of blepharitis, your doctor might give you an antibiotic-steroid ointment.  They’ll need to watch closely for side effects of long-term steroid use.

Some people are more likely to have chalazia that come back. Your doctor may want to take a sample from the area for a biopsy to rule out other problems.

Xanthelasma come back in up to 40% of people who have them surgically removed. That number is higher in people who’ve had more than one removal.

Trying to scrape off milia might cause scarring. Secondary milia can be permanent.

There are things you can do to lower your odds of getting a stye or chalazion:

  • Take off eye makeup before you go to bed.
  • Disinfect your contact lenses.
  • Wash your hands before putting in your contacts or touching your eyes.

The best way to prevent xanthelasma may be to treat the other health conditions linked to them.

There’s no one way to keep from getting milia. You might make them less likely by protecting your skin from the sun, avoiding heavy creams, and exfoliating to get rid of dead cells.