Chalazion (Child)

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 vary in size. It may appear on the inside or outside of the lid. In most cases, it is on the upper lid. The skin may be a normal color or may be red. A chalazion is often 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 an oil gland infection (called a sty). That's 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 child’s healthcare provider finds that a chalazion is infected, he or she may prescribe an antibiotic drop or ointment. Follow all instructions for giving this medicine to your child. Don’t give any medicine for this condition without first asking your child’s healthcare provider.

How to give eye medicine

  • Using eye drops. Apply drops in the corner of the eye where the eyelid meets the nose. The drops will pool in this area. When your child blinks or opens his or her eyelid, the drops will flow into the eye. Use the exact number of drops prescribed. Be careful not to touch the eye or eyelashes with the dropper.

  • Using ointment. If both drops and ointment are prescribed, give the drops first. Wait 3 minutes, then apply the ointment. Doing this will give each medicine time to work. To apply the ointment, start by gently pulling down the lower lid. Place a thin line of ointment along the inside of the lid. Begin at the nose and move outward. Close the lid. Wipe away excess medicine from the nose area outward. This is to keep the eyes as clean as possible. Have your child keep the eye closed for 1 or 2 minutes, so the medicine has time to coat the eye. Eye ointment may cause blurry vision. This is normal. Apply ointment right before your child goes to sleep. If your child is an infant, ointment may be easier to apply while he or she is sleeping.

Follow these guidelines when caring for your child at home:

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

  • Apply a warm moist towel or compress for 10 to 15 minutes, 3 to 4 times a day. A warm compress is a clean towel damp with warm water.

  • After the warm compress or as directed by the healthcare provider, gently massage the area to help drain the chalazion. An older child may be able to massage his or her own eyelid with adult supervision.

  • You and your child should never try to pop or squeeze the chalazion.

  • As applicable, your child should not wear eye makeup until the chalazion has healed, or follow your healthcare provider’s directions.

  • As applicable, your child should not wear contact lens until the chalazion has healed, or follow your healthcare provider’s directions.

  • Once a day, with eyes closed, clean your child's eyelids with baby shampoo or a moist eyelid cleansing wipe. Ask your healthcare provider about products to clean eyelids. This helps prevent the return of a chalazion and clogging of the eyelid duct.

  • Encourage your child to wash his or her hands regularly. This helps reduce the chance of dirt and bacteria coming into contact with the eyelid.

Follow-up care

Follow up with your child’s healthcare provider, or as advised. If the chalazion does not heal in 4 weeks, your child may be referred to a healthcare provider who specializes in eye care (an optometrist or ophthalmologist) for further evaluation and treatment. Your child may also see an eye specialist if he or she has a large chalazion.

Special note for parents

Carefully wash your hands with soap and warm water before and after caring for your child’s eyes. This helps to prevent spreading infection. Make sure that your child washes his or her own hands before and after touching the eyelid.

Call 911

Call 911 if any of these occur:

  • Trouble breathing

  • Confusion

  • Extreme drowsiness or trouble waking up

  • Fainting or loss of consciousness

  • Rapid heart rate

  • Seizure

  • Stiff neck

When to seek medical advice

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

  • Your child has a fever (see “Fever and children” below)

  • Chalazion returns to the same area repeatedly

  • Existing symptoms (such as pain, warmth, redness, and drainage) don’t get better, or get worse

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

  • Vision changes, such as trouble seeing or blurred vision

Fever and children

Always use a digital thermometer to check your child’s temperature. Never use a mercury thermometer.

For infants and toddlers, be sure to use a rectal thermometer correctly. A rectal thermometer may accidentally poke a hole in (perforate) the rectum. It may also pass on germs from the stool. Always follow the product maker’s directions for proper use. If you don’t feel comfortable taking a rectal temperature, use another method. When you talk to your child’s healthcare provider, tell him or her which method you used to take your child’s temperature.

Here are guidelines for fever temperature. Ear temperatures aren’t accurate before 6 months of age. Don’t take an oral temperature until your child is at least 4 years old.

Infant under 3 months old:

  • Ask your child’s healthcare provider how you should take the temperature.

  • Rectal or forehead (temporal artery) temperature of 100.4°F (38°C) or higher, or as directed by the provider

  • Armpit temperature of 99°F (37.2°C) or higher, or as directed by the provider

Child age 3 to 36 months:

  • Rectal, forehead, or ear temperature of 102°F (38.9°C) or higher, or as directed by the provider

  • Armpit (axillary) temperature of 101°F (38.3°C) or higher, or as directed by the provider

Child of any age:

  • Repeated temperature of 104°F (40°C) or higher, or as directed by the provider

  • Fever that lasts more than 24 hours in a child under 2 years old. Or a fever that lasts for 3 days in a child 2 years or older.

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