Have you ever woken up one morning, checked your face in the mirror, and exclaimed, “Why is there a bump on my eyelid?!” Even if your discovery of a bump on your eyelid was a little less dramatic, chances are that you were still a bit concerned when you first felt or saw the bump(s) for the first time.
This concern is natural. We are instinctively protective of our eyes, and when we perceive that something is threatening them, we’re bound to not react well, even if that thing “just” a small bump on your eyelid.
As with most things, however, a little information can help allay our worst fears. Learn about the top causes of eyelid bumps, how those bumps can be treated, and whether or not you should be concerned when things get “bumpy.”
What causes eyelid bumps?
There are a few common types of eye bumps, the most common being styes and chalazia. Whether you find a bump on your upper eyelid, your lower eyelid, or both, you can rest assured that these bumps are often not cause for serious concern. In fact, they typically go away on their own.
To help identify what kind of eye bump you have, pay attention to where the bump occurs, if it is accompanied by other bumps, whether or not the bump is painful, and whether or not the bump grows in size.
- Causes: A stye (also spelled “sty and also called an external/internal hordeolum) occurs when an eyelash follicle becomes inflamed or infected and clogs the oil glands in an eyelash follicle. You are more likely to get a stye if you are experiencing stress, fluctuations in hormone levels, or suffer from blepharitis (inflammation of the eyelash follicles) or rosacea.
- Location: A stye typically forms on the outside rim of your eyelid, along the lash line, although they do occasionally form on your inner eyelid.
- Appearance: Styes (also spelled ‘sties’) are red. They are pimple-like, boil-like, or blister-like in appearance and frequently contain pus. Over time, a stye may turn yellow and leak puss.
- Growth: Styes can swell to the point where they cause excess tearing and affect the entire eyelid.
- Symptoms: Styes cause swelling, pain, itchiness, and tenderness in the eyelid. They can also cause sensitivity to light and excess wateriness of the eye.
- Are styes infectious? Yes. The bacterium (typically staphylococcus) that causes a stye can spread to others.
- Causes: A chalazion occurs when your meibomian gland—a gland in the eyelid that secretes the lipid layer, i.e. oils that keep your tears from evaporating—becomes clogged. You are more likely to get a chalazion if you suffer from meibomian gland dysfunction, blepharitis, rosacea, or diabetic retinopathy.
- Location: Chalazia appear on both the upper and lower eyelids, but are more likely to occur on the upper eyelid because the upper eyelid has more meibomian glands (25–40) than the lower eyelid (20–30). Unlike styes, they tend to occur in the middle of the eyelid instead of the rim.
- Appearance: A red, firm bump that can be as large as a pea.
- Growth: After forming, a chalazion rarely continues to grow and swell.
- Symptoms: Chalazia are typically less painful than styes. However, they may cause some pain and tenderness along the eyelid when they are first forming.
- Are chalazia infectious? No.
- Causes: A milium cyst is a small bump that is frequently found in groups called milia. Milia are the result of Keratin—the protein that helps form your nails, skin, and hair—that becomes trapped beneath your skin. While milia occur most frequently in infants, you can have milia at any age.
- Location: Milia can be found in many places on the body, but occur most frequently on the face. It is possible to have milia on the eyelids, cheeks, nose, lips, forehead.
- Appearance: Milia are small bumps that typically occur in groups. They range in color from white to yellow. They are often compared to whiteheads.
- Growth: Milia have been shown to grow up to two millimeters, but typically remain much smaller. If you notice a white bump under your eyelid that does not grow, it is likely milia.
- Symptoms: Milia may be frustrating, but they are painless. Milia in adults typically occurs after some sort of trauma to the skin (such as a burn, poison ivy, dermabrasion, etc.) Though rare, milia in juveniles may be a sign of underlying genetic disorders, including Gardner’s syndrome, nevoid basal cell carcinoma syndrome (NBCCS), pachyonychia congenita, Bazex-Depré-Christol syndrome.
- Are milia infectious? No.
- Causes: A rare condition, xanthelasma occurs when cholesterol builds up in patches underneath the skin of your eyelids.
- Location: Xanthelasma patches occur on both the upper and lower eyelids near the corners of your eye (towards the tear duct).
- Appearance: Xanthelasma patches are yellow and slightly raised. They are soft to the touch.
- Growth: Xanthelasma patches either stay the same size or grow larger. They do not go away on their own.
- Symptoms: While xanthelasma does not have symptoms itself, it may indicate high levels of bad cholesterol, a higher risk for heart disease, and other concerns.
- Is xanthelasma infectious? No.
A bump on the eyelid can occasionally be caused by skin cancer. The next section will address what to do if you suspect that the bump on your eyelid is caused by something other than a stye, chalazion, milia, or xanthelasma.
How do you get rid of a bump on your eyelid when it doesn’t go away on its own?
If the bump on your eyelid won’t go away, returns frequently, begins to obstruct your vision, causes bleeding, or is accompanied by a change in the color of the white of your eyes, it’s best to see an eye doctor.
Styes, chalazia, and milia all frequently go away on their own. However, there are some things you can do at home to expedite the process.
Treatments for styes and chalazia
- Avoid wearing makeup or using contact lenses.
- Apply a clean, damp, warm washcloth to the eye for 5–10 minutes, 3–4 times a day. The warmth helps drain the clogged gland.
- With clean hands, gently massage the area around the stye.
- Clean all eyewear and accessories to remove bacteria.
Prescribed or in-office treatments:
- Treatment of underlying conditions
- Draining the stye or chalazion using minor surgery
Treatments for milia
- The regular cleaning, exfoliation, and moisturizing of your skin (using oil-free and paraben-free products)
- Manuka honey masks
- The use of night serums that contain vitamins E or A
Prescribed or in-office treatments:
- Remove the milia using cryotherapy (freezing with liquid nitrogen)
- De-roofing (use of needle or blade)
- Curettage (numbing and scooping away of the skin)
- Chemical peels
- Laser surgery
Treatments for xanthelasma
Outside of changes in diet, xanthelasma does not respond to home treatment. While it is harmless, if you would like it removed, your doctor can offer using cryotherapy, radiofrequency advanced electrolysis (RAF), chemical peels, laser surgery, and medication.
If your doctor suspects that your eye bump is caused by skin cancer, they may need to conduct a biopsy. Keep in mind that cancerous eye bumps occur only rarely.
Concerned about a bump on your eyelid? Call Eye Center of Texas.
Tired of asking the Internet, “Why is there a bump on my eyelid?” The medical professionals at Eye Center of Texas can provide you with reliable and experienced care.
We are known for providing top-of-the-line eye treatments, including cataract surgery in Houston, eyelid surgery and the removal of excess eyelid skin, and some of the best LASIK in Houston. But we see patients with a range of conditions and eye issues, including those who are concerned about the diagnosis and removal of eye bumps.
Put your mind at ease about that nagging bump on your eye. Request an appointment at Eye Center of Texas by calling 713-797-1010 or contacting us online today.
Other Helpful Articles by Eye Center of Texas: