Painful bumps on the eyelid usually stem from blockage of an eyelid gland or tear duct. The resulting buildup of staphylococcus bacteria is why styes or chalazia develop.
Effective treatments include warm compresses and an ability to not touch or rub the bumps. Sometimes doctors prescribe antibiotics to clear up the infection.
Most cases resolve within 48 hours and require little to no treatment.
A painful bump on your eyelid may manifest as a pimple or resemble a boil. The lump occurs from blockage or infection in eyelash follicles, tear ducts or oil glands in your eyelid.
The bump may feel swollen and tender to touch and grow into a stye or chalazion. Apart from turning red, other symptoms include soreness, tearing, sensitivity to light and feeling itchy around the eye.
Eyes are sensitive and require gentle and routine care, such as warm compresses and eyelid scrubs to unclog oil glands. Massaging the eyelids can also help relieve the eyes of pressure.
Most bumps and swellings on the eyelid are not contagious and call for better hygiene practices as a treatment.
Bumps that manifest on eyelids arise for a handful of reasons. Excess bacteria from oil glands surrounding the eyelids are a primary culprit, as are blocked oil glands and blocked tear ducts.
Oil glands surround the eyelids to secrete an oil film that lubricates the eye’s surface and prevents eyes from drying out. These oil glands get clogged from dust, dead skin, or debris from makeup in some instances.
In the case of styes, bacteria thrive in the blocked gland, gradually infecting it and causing a painful red swelling similar to acne. Research shows that the staphylococcus bacteria cause 90 to 95 percent of all cases.
Besides the infected eyelash follicle or oil gland, the whole eyelid may swell. You can have more than one type of stye at the same time. Sometimes the stye drains, heals and resolves on its own without medication.
- A crusting margin of the eyelid
- Pus in the spot of the swelling
- A teary eye that feels gritty
- Light sensitivity
How to Handle a Stye
- Avoid makeup or any products that may cause buildup around the affected eyelid
- Use a warm compress
- You can wait it out because most styes do not require a lot of attention
- Take antibiotics if symptoms persist
- Avoid rubbing the eye
Chalazion forms when the oil glands in your eyelid become blocked entirely. The blockage could be due to inflammation or from thickened remnants of a healed stye. Cosmetics may also cause buildup if you don’t cleanse properly. A chalazion need not form from an infection.
A chalazion is more prominent than a stye, initially painful but becomes painless over time. It is more prevalent in adults than children and can occur on either eyelid but is more common on the upper one. Enlarged chalazia may interfere with vision. They can take one to six weeks to heal completely.
- Irritated and teary eyes
- Blurry vision if the chalazion is growing bigger and causing pressure in your eye
- A visible bump
- Apply a warm compress
- A medium pressure massage on the eyelid
- Keep the affected eyelid clean
- Do not squeeze
- Only handle your face with clean hands
- Clean makeup tools to prevent reoccurrence
Blocked Tear Duct (Dacryostenosis)
When you have a blocked tear duct, you will wake up with crusty eyes that are shut tight, depending on the magnitude of the blockage. Since the eye cannot fully drain tears, it results in painful and red swelling in the inner corner of your eyelid.
The condition is common with infants below a year old. Blocked tear ducts may become more painful or affected if not addressed.
Signs and Symptoms
- Swollen eyelid after crying
- A crusty margin of the eyelid
Managing Blocked Tear Ducts
- Use warm compresses
- Clean the affected eye to prevent a buildup of the crust
- Massage the eyelid to reduce pressure
- Use antibiotics
- See a doctor if fever develops
These are hard but harmless (benign) swellings that are pink or skin-colored. Although painless, they may enlarge over time and affect your vision.
There are five types of eyelid papillomas:
- Squamous papilloma is the formal way to describe a skin tag. It is the most common non-cancerous tumor of the eyelid, and it is smooth and round. It is easily (but carefully) removed.
- Seborrheic keratosis describes erratically shaped lesions that are pink, brown or skin-colored. They are harmless.
- Ophthalmic molluscum contagiosum are lesions filled with a waxy substance that sometimes discharges on its own. They can also be drained. These are common for people who tend to have allergies and also for children.
- Sebaceous cysts are raised, round and usually smooth and filled with skin cells, cholesterol crystals and fat. They are typically associated with someone who has high cholesterol or an elevated level of body fat.
- Verruca vulgaris is an uncommon and benign skin-colored growth that presents as if it were squamous papilloma.
- Painless single or cluster growth
- May cause mild irritation
- Topical antibiotics
- Hot compresses
- Maintaining eyelid hygiene
- Surgical removal
When to See a Doctor
In most cases, painful bumps in the eyelid get better within 48 hours of applying homecare. Examine the symptoms and record any intervention you use to make the eyelid bump heal.
If the eyelid bump worsens, you may have a headache, double vision, or sight of halos and dark spots. In short, see your eye doctor if:
- Essential home remedies do not make you feel better in 48 hours
- Chalazia keep recurring
- The eye surface turns bright red (it may signify a spreading infection)
- Your eye vision deteriorates, even slightly
- There is fluid retention around your eyelids
- You catch a fever from the inflammation
- There is severe swelling around your eyes
- You can’t read or do other everyday tasks
Blocked Tear Duct (Dacryostenosis) in Children. (Retrieved March 2022). University of Rochester Medical Center.
Chalazion. (February 2021). Cleveland Clinic.
Styes — How to Treat Them, How to Avoid Them. (Feb 2021). Cleveland Clinic.
Stye. (November 2021). StatPearls Publishing.
What Causes a Stye and the Best Ways to Get Rid of One. (April 2020). Duke University School of Medicine.
Eyelid papilloma. (January 2022). StatPearls Publishing.
Last Updated April 20, 2022
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