Dealing With Eyelid Lumps & Bumps

Eyelid lumps are various growths or bumps that can develop on the eyelids. These lumps may cause discomfort, interfere with vision, or affect cosmetic appearance – but our oculoplastic specialists can help!

Types of Eyelid Bumps


A stye is a small, localized infection of the eyelid near the base of the eyelashes or along the edge of the eyelid. It appears as a painful, red lump that is often tender or swollen.

Styes are caused by a bacterial infection entering through microabrasions on the eyelid. Common symptoms include eyelid pain, light sensitivity, tearing, and blurred vision near the affected area.

Styes tend to start off small but can grow in size if the infection spreads further within the eyelid. They usually only affect one eye at a time, but it is possible to have them recur or swap to the other eye.


A chalazion is a non-infected, swollen oil gland located within the eyelid. It appears as a small, painless lump under the skin of the eyelid. Chalazions are caused when tiny glands that produce oils and tears to lubricate the eye become blocked. This causes fluids to back up, resulting in a hardened nodule under the eyelid. 

They often develop slowly over time and typically affect one eyelid, though it’s possible to have multiple. Chalazions are generally asymptomatic, meaning they do not cause pain, redness, or irritation like an infected stye may. Without treatment, a chalazion can persist for several weeks or months.


Xanthelasma are small, yellowish growths that develop on or near the eyelids. Xanthelasma are caused by a buildup of cholesterol and fatty deposits in the skin, often linked to high cholesterol levels. The plaques typically appear symmetrically around the eyelids and eyes. 

While they may look concerning, xanthelasma themselves are not medically serious and do not pose health risks. However, they can be physically removed for cosmetic reasons if desired.


Milia are small, white or flesh-colored cysts that form just under the skin. They resemble miniature whiteheads and contain keratin, a protein found in hair and nails. Milia commonly appear on the face, especially around the eyes, nose or cheeks in both children and adults. Milia form when keratin debris collects and becomes trapped within hair follicles instead of properly shedding from the skin’s surface. This leads to the small, raised bumps under the skin. 

Milia are very common and do not pose health risks.

Symptoms of Eyelid Lumps & Bumps

Common symptoms of eyelid lumps and bumps include:

  • Visible bump or swelling on the eyelid
  • Lumps can be either hard/firm or fluid-filled
  • Painless or painful to the touch
  • Irritation, itching or tenderness
  • Redness and pain (styles)
  • Pale and asymptomatic (chalazions)
  • Blurred or sensitive vision if pressing on eyeball
  • Discharge or weeping from the lump
  • Rapid growth or changes in appearance/vision

It is recommended to seek medical evaluation for symptoms like pain, impaired vision or lumps that persist, recur or appear concerning.

Treating Eyelid Lumps & Bumps

Home care

Do not try to squeeze or pop a stye or chalazion by yourself – you can increase your risk of infection and spread bacteria to your other eye! You can treat a stye or chalazion at home by holding a warm compress on it for 10 minutes up to 4 times a day.

Heat and compression can help drain the stye, loosen blockages in the oil gland, and aid healing by increasing blood flow to the area.

Medical care

For painful, large and recurring styes, a doctor can drain the infected fluid and prescribe antibiotic eye creams for the eyelid.

Surgery may be an option if you have a large chalazion that doesn’t go away on its own. Anti-inflammatory steroid injections can also relieve swelling.

Xanthelasma are harmless, but you may wish to remove it if the appearance bothers you. You should talk with a doctor about testing for underlying conditions such as high cholesterol.

Frequently Asked Questions

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