Chalazion

A chalazion is a blocked, swollen oil gland in the eyelid. The eyelids have oil glands that lubricate the inside of the lids. If a gland becomes blocked, the oil builds up and causes the skin to swell.

A chalazion can take several weeks to grow. It can vary in size. It may appear on the inside or outside of the lid. In most cases, it occurs on the upper lid. The skin may be a normal color or may be red. A chalazion is usually not painful. But it can cause mild pain, soreness, sensitivity to light, eye discharge, and increased tearing.

A chalazion often lasts from a few weeks to a month. It often goes away on its own. A chalazion can be mistaken for a sty (infection of an oil gland) because they both appear on the eyelid.

Why a chalazion forms

It’s often unclear why a chalazion appears. But a chalazion can develop when you have any of the following conditions:

  • Chronic blepharitis, when eyelids become irritated

  • Acne rosacea

  • Seborrhea

  • Tuberculosis

  • Viral infection

Home care

If your healthcare provider finds that a chalazion is infected, he or she may prescribe an antibiotic drop or ointment. Use the medicine as directed.

  • Wash your hands carefully with soap and warm water before and after caring for your eye. This is to help prevent infection.

  • Apply a warm, moist towel or compress for 10 to 15 minutes, 3 to 4 times a day. This will reduce the swelling and soften the hardened oils blocking the duct.

  • Massage the area gently after applying the warm compress to help drain the chalazion. Or follow your healthcare provider’s directions.

  • Don’t try to pop or squeeze the chalazion.

  • Don’t wear eye makeup until the chalazion has healed. Or follow your healthcare provider’s directions.

  • Don’t wear contact lenses until the chalazion has healed. Or follow your healthcare provider’s directions.

  • Once a day, with eyes closed, clean your eyelids with baby shampoo or a moist eyelid cleansing wipe. This is to help reduce clogging of the duct, as well as help prevent a chalazion from returning. Ask your healthcare provider about products to clean your eyelids.

Follow-up care

Follow up with your healthcare provider, or as advised. If the chalazion does not heal in 4 weeks, you may be referred to a healthcare provider who specializes in eye care (an optometrist or ophthalmologist) for further evaluation and treatment. You may also be referred to an eye specialist if you have a large chalazion.

When to seek medical advice

Call your healthcare provider right away if any of these occur:

  • Chalazion returns to the same area repeatedly

  • Existing symptoms (such as pain, warmth, redness, and drainage) get worse

  • New symptoms appear, such as eye pain, warmth or redness around the eye, eye drainage, or both the upper and lower lids of the same eye swell

  • You have visual changes or blurred vision

  • You have a headache that persists

  • You have a fever of 100.4ºF (38ºC) or higher, or as directed by your healthcare provider

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