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A chalazion is a small bump in the eyelid caused by a blockage of a tiny oil gland. It develops in the glands that produce the fluid that lubricates the eye. These are called Meibomian glands. The eyelid has approximately 100 of these glands, which are located near the eyelashes.

A chalazion is caused by a blockage of the duct that drains one of these glands. Most common symptoms are eyelid tenderness, increased tearing, painful swelling on the eyelid, and sensitivity to light.

An exam of the eyelid confirms the diagnosis. Rarely, the Meibomian gland duct may be blocked by a skin cancer. If this is suspected, you may need a biopsy.

A chalazion will often disappear without treatment in a month or so. The primary treatment is to apply warm compresses for 10-15 minutes at least four times a day. This may soften the hardened oils blocking the duct, and promote drainage and healing. If the chalazion continues to get bigger, it may need to be removed with surgery. This is usually done from underneath the eyelid to avoid a scar on the skin, usually in our office.

Antibiotic eye drops are usually used several days before and after the cyst is removed. However, they are not much use otherwise in treating a chalazion. Chalazions usually heal on their own. The outcome with treatment is usually excellent.

Apply warm compresses and call our office if the swelling gets worse or continues for longer than 1 month, if lumps on the eyelid continue to get bigger despite treatment, or you have an area of eyelash loss. Properly cleaning the eyelid may prevent the condition from returning if you are prone to chalazions. Cleaning the eyelash area with baby shampoo will help reduce clogging of the ducts.