A chalazion is a swelling in the eyelid that creates a cyst. It is caused by inflammation of one of the small oil-producing glands (meibomian glands) in the upper and lower eyelids. The word chalazion comes from the Greek for a small lump.
A chalazion is not the same as a stye, which is also a lump in the eyelid. A stye is an infection of a lash follicle that forms a red, sore lump near the edge of the eyelid, while a chalazion is an inflammatory reaction to trapped oil secretions.
Chalazion are not caused by bacteria, although they can, rarely, become infected by bacteria. Antibiotics therefore do not play much role in their treatment. In most cases, antibiotics are more likely to cause side-effects than to help.
Chalazion tend to be situated further from the edge of the eyelid than styes, and are generally pointed towards the inside of the eyelid. Sometimes a chalazion can cause the entire eyelid to swell suddenly.
When a chalazion is small and without symptoms, it may disappear on its own. If a chalazion is large, it may cause blurred vision.
You can treat many chalazion at home using warm compresses and massage to soften and drain them. Follow these steps twice a day:
No proven evidence exists that modifying your diet helps reduce the chance of developing chalazion but similar advice given to patients with severe acne may be appropriate for some individuals. This includes:
Getting into regular habits of sufficient sleep, moderate sun exposure, exercise and fresh air may improve skin health, the hygiene of the skin and the glands of the eyelids. Stress is often anecdotally associated with episodes of recurrent chalazion, although this has not been established by medical research.
More advanced chalazion
Two other treatments can be used on more advanced chalazion.
Many of us have small lesions on our face. Some are much loved beauty spots, but many are unloved lumps and bumps that can very easily be removed.
The surgery is usually with local anaesthetic. If the lesion is at all suspicious of skin cancer then an excision biopsy is recommended.
There is a small risk of infection, bruise and scarring. The scarring should however be less visible than the lump.