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Eyelid bumps are painful, red lumps at the edge of the eyelid, typically where the lash meets the lid. Bacteria or a blockage in the eyelid’s oil glands cause most eyelid bumps.

Eyelid bumps are often harmless and don’t always require medical treatment. They often go away on their own or with basic home care.

But if an eyelid bump becomes increasingly painful, doesn’t respond to home treatments, or interferes with your vision, you may want to talk with a doctor about ways to manage your symptoms or see whether you have a more severe problem.

There are three types of common eyelid bumps. The type and underlying cause of your eyelid bump will determine the best course of treatment.

Styes

A stye is the most common type of eyelid bump. Styes occur when bacteria get into the oil glands of the eyelids. A stye is a round, red bump that appears close to your eyelashes.

Styes can make your eyelid feel sore. It can also cause you to be sensitive to light and make your eye watery or feel itchy. It typically takes a few days for a stye to form, and you may have more than one at a time.

Chalazion

A chalazion is an inflammatory lesion that occurs when the oil-producing glands or tear glands in the eyelids become blocked. A chalazion usually grows further on your eyelid than a stye.

It’s painless in most cases and often goes away with home or over-the-counter treatment. It can interfere with your vision depending on where it grows and how big it gets.

Xanthelasma

Xanthelasma are harmless yellow bumps that occur when fats build up underneath the skin. They most commonly affect people ages 35 to 55 years old. In some cases, the bumps indicate high cholesterol levels.

Most eyelid bumps appear as red or skin-colored lumps, typically along the edge of the eyelid. Sometimes they can be tender. Other symptoms include red, watery eyes, a gritty, itchy sensation in the eye and sensitivity to light.

Although most eyelid bumps are mild or harmless, some can indicate a more severe condition. Consider seeing a doctor if any of the following occur:

  • you’re having trouble seeing
  • your eyes are extremely watery
  • there’s copious discharge from your eye
  • the white part of your eye changes color
  • your eyes hurt even in low lighting
  • your eyelid bump bleeds, gets worse, grows very big, or is very painful
  • your eyelid is scaly, crusty, or red, which can indicate an infection
  • your eyelid has blisters, which can indicate an infection

If a stye or chalazion doesn’t go away over time with home care, a doctor can determine whether it’s a more severe condition and discuss treatment options.

Styes occur when bacteria enter and inflame your oil glands.

Your risk of having styes increases if you have blepharitis, or inflammation of the eyelash follicles.

A chalazion can form when the oil glands in your eyelids are blocked. Styes that don’t drain can turn into chalazia.

Xanthelasma occur when you have collections of fat just below the skin’s surface. They sometimes indicate an underlying condition that can cause high cholesterol, such as diabetes. They can also form without a connection to any medical conditions.

A doctor can diagnose a stye or chalazion. Depending on the bump’s location, the doctor may quickly flip your eyelid over to take a closer look. No other tests are necessary unless there’s a concern that you may have a different medical problem.

Home care

Trying to squeeze or pop a stye or chalazion can increase your risk of infection and spread bacteria to your other eye. You can treat a stye 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.

Xanthelasma don’t require home care.

Medical care

A doctor may need to drain the infected fluid if you have a large stye. If you keep getting styes or have ones that won’t go away, a doctor might prescribe an antibiotic cream for your eyelid.

Surgery may be an option if you have a large chalazion that doesn’t go away on its own. A doctor might give you antibiotic eye drops before and after surgery to treat or prevent infection. This is usually done in the doctor’s office. Anti-inflammatory steroid injections can relieve swelling.

Xanthelasma don’t need treatment, but you may wish to remove it if the appearance bothers you.

Options include:

  • laser or radio-frequency ablation
  • a chemical peel
  • cryotherapy
  • surgery

Drugs that affect the entire body — such as probucol, an antioxidant, and alirocumab, an anticholesterol therapy — have shown promise, but more research is needed.

Styes usually heal on their own after draining, which can take a few days to a week. Call a doctor if the stye doesn’t go away within 1 to 2 weeks. You might also get more styes after the initial one heals.

A chalazion usually disappears within a few weeks or months when treated at home. Still, you may want to tell a doctor if the chalazion keeps getting bigger or isn’t improving with warm compresses after a couple of weeks.

Xanthelasma are harmless, but you should talk with a doctor about testing for underlying conditions. If you have one removed, there’s a high chance it will return.

You can find a primary care doctor in your area using the Healthline FindCare tool.

Practicing good hygiene can help reduce your risk of getting a stye. You can prevent the spread of bacteria with regular handwashing. Also, try not to touch your eyes until you’ve washed your hands with hot, soapy water.

You can help prevent chalazia by rinsing your eyelids twice daily with warm water and mild soap if you have blepharitis. It would help if you also put a warm compress on your eyelid as soon as it feels irritated.

Controlling your cholesterol levels by eating a balanced diet and maintaining a moderate weight might help prevent xanthelasma, which can result from high cholesterol levels.