I have a weird bump on my eyelid. What is it?
Eyelid bumps are nothing to blink at! Fortunately, they often go away on their own. The most common type is a stye, a pimplelike bump on your lash line. The inside of your eyelids are lined with special oil glands that keep your eyes lubricated. Styes form when bacteria get into these glands, giving you a painful, sometimes pus-filled bump. They may also arise from an infection of a hair follicle. The best move is to wait it out, but you can speed up the draining process by doing warm compresses with a washcloth for 10 minutes four times a day. Styes that stick around for longer than several days may need to be drained by a doc. Just don’t try to squeeze it yourself, which could spread the infection.
If the bump is more like a hard lump under the skin, it’s probably a chalazion, which develops when the oil gland gets blocked with thicker than normal oil secretions or by a stye that wouldn’t heal. Chalazia are often painless but can persist for months. Warm compresses are a good remedy here, too, but if it doesn’t go away or if it becomes painful (a sign it’s infected), your ophthalmologist can drain it.
Another culprit: milia, or small white bumps caused by trapped keratin (a protein produced by the skin) under your eyelid. These can appear anywhere but often show up around your eyes. Milia typically clear up on their own, but your doctor can scrape them away if they’re bothersome.
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A lump that bleeds or doesn’t go away with treatment could be a skin cancer. Removing eyelid skin cancers can be tricky, but your derm can refer you to a surgeon trained in Mohs micrographic surgery, in which skin is removed layer by layer until you‘re cancer-free. Good news: This is highly effective and minimizes scarring.
Health‘s medical editor, Roshini Rajapaksa, MD, is assistant professor of medicine at the NYU School of Medicine.