A chalazion will often go away without treatment, though treatment can help it heal.

A chalazion (plural: chalazia) is a lump that forms on your eyelid due to the blockage of an oil gland. These glands are called meibomian glands, and chalazia are sometimes called meibomian cysts.

Chalazia are one of the most common eyelid conditions seen by eye doctors. They usually start as a small tender area and grow into a painless lump the size of a pea after a few days.

Home remedies like applying a warm compress can aid your body’s natural healing process. Medical treatments like steroid injections or surgery are used when home remedies aren’t effective.

Let’s review potential home and medical treatments for a chalazion.

Most chalazia heal by themselves within a month. You may be able to aid your body’s natural healing process by:

  • applying a warm compress to your eyelid to soften trapped oil and promote drainage
  • massaging the outside of your eyelid for several minutes per day
  • keeping the area clean and not touching your eyes once the chalazion naturally drains

People with recurrent chalazia are at an increased risk of having dysfunction of their meibomian glands. In a 2020 study, researchers found evidence that a warm compress may lead to short-term improvements in meibomian gland function and may decrease the chances of developing recurrent chalazia.

Clearing away excess oil and debris from the base of your eyelashes with a cotton ball soaked in diluted baby shampoo or a commercial eyelid cleanser may also help prevent recurrent chalazia.

In another 2020 study, researchers found evidence that using one of these two cleansers along with a warm compress may reduce eye irritability and discomfort in people with meibomian gland dysfunction.

How to make a warm compress for chalazion treatment

You can make a warm compress at home following these steps:

  1. Collect warm water in a clean pot on the stove or run warm water from the tap.
  2. Soak a clean cloth in the water at a temperature that’s between warm and comfortably hot. Make sure that it’s not so hot you’ll burn yourself.
  3. Apply the warm compress to your eyelid. The American Optometric Association (AOA) recommends applying the warm compress for 10 to 15 minutes at a time four to six times per day. One method of making a warm compress includes placing a handful of uncooked rice inside a clean sock, tying off the end and microwaving it for 20 seconds. The rice should retain heat longer than a moistened towel.

In a 2019 study, researchers investigated the effectiveness of warm compresses for a chalazion. They found that 21% of people who received warm compress alone had complete resolution of their symptoms at a follow-up appointment.

However, 30% of people in the study didn’t return for their follow-up, and the researchers speculated it might have been because they had no more symptoms. It’s possible as many as 51% of people had complete resolution of their symptoms.

Most chalazia will eventually drain on their own. Following good home management can help speed up the draining process.

If your chalazion is draining, you should see it reduce in size eventually. It’s important to avoid pulling on the skin around the chalazion while it’s healing, but you can put pressure on the chalazion to help it along.

Most chalazia drain by themselves within about a month. With proper home management, they might get better in as little as days to a week. But it can remain for months if it doesn’t completely drain.

In a 2019 study, researchers noted that doctors might want to consider going straight to surgical removal for chalazia that have been present for more than 2 months.

It’s important to avoid trying to pop a chalazion or pulling on the skin around it since you might cause more damage to your eyelid. It’s best to avoid touching your eye as much as possible and wash your hands in advance if you do need to touch your eye to prevent bacterial infection.

According to the AOA, your chalazion may require medical treatment if it doesn’t go away after several weeks. It’s also a good idea to see an eye doctor if:

  • Home remedies aren’t effective,
  • The chalazion migrated to a new part of your eye.
  • You have eye pain.
  • The chalazion is pressing against your eye and affecting your vision.
  • There’s bleeding in the area.
  • You’re losing eyelashes.

Medical treatment options for a chalazion include:

  • Steroid injections and ointments: Steroid injections or ointments can reduce inflammation and swelling related to your chalazion. The steroid triamcinolone is often used. Larger lumps might need a second injection after 2 to 7 days.
  • Surgical removal: Chalazion surgery is performed with local anesthesia to numb your eyelid. During the procedure, your surgeon will make an incision in your eyelid and remove the oil inside.
  • Antibiotics: Antibiotics are only needed if the chalazion becomes infected. A doctor might prescribe 100 milligrams (mg) of oral doxycycline twice daily for 10 days or 50 mg of oral minocycline for 10 days.

If you have recurrent chalazia, a doctor may want to take a small sample of the edge of the lump to test it in a lab for a rare type of cancer called sebaceous cell carcinoma.

A chalazion is a lump that forms on your eyelid from a blocked oil gland. It usually heals by itself. Home remedies like applying a warm compress to your eye can help break up the oil and promote drainage.

If home remedies alone aren’t enough to heal your chalazion, you may need medical treatment. Your doctor may recommend steroid injections or surgical removal.