4 Causes of Bumps on the Eyelid

What to know about those weird little lumps.

Doctor examining older woman's eyes

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If you've ever looked in the mirror and seen a bump on your eyelid, or a white bump on your lash line, you know that eyelid bumps are nothing to blink at. 

While they may be small and often go away on their own, those bumps are more complicated than they might seem at first glance. The little bump on your eyelid could be a stye, chalazion, milium, or in rare cases, skin cancer. 

Causes of Eye Bumps

Eyelid bumps can come in various forms, each with different causes. Here's what you should know about some of the most common types of eyelid bumps and what to do about them.


One of the most common eyelid bumps is a stye, a pimple-like bump on your lash line. 

Special oil glands that keep your eyes lubricated line the insides of your eyelids. Styes form when bacteria enter those glands, giving you a painful, sometimes pus-filled bump. Styes can cause swelling, and they tend to be painful.

Some risk factors for styes include:

  • Not removing your makeup before bed
  • Not throwing away eye makeup three months after your first use
  • Improperly disinfecting your contact lenses


If you have a hard lump under the skin, it may be a chalazion. A chalazion develops when thicker-than-normal oil secretions block the oil gland. Or you may develop a chalazion because of a stye that won't heal. Chalazia are often painless, and they typically resolve within a month.

You can reduce your risk of developing chalazia by doing the following:

  • Replacing eye makeup every three months
  • Removing eye makeup before bed
  • Washing your hands before touching around your eyes or removing your contact lenses


Milia are tiny white bumps that develop when old skin cells become trapped under the skin. Milia can appear anywhere but often show up around your eyes. In some cases, long-term use of corticosteroids, or skin damage from an injury, rash, or the sun, cause milia.

While milia most often appear in newborns, they can occur at any age. Risk factors that increase your risk of milia include:

  • Poor sleep
  • Oil-based makeup 
  • Skin care products that clog pores
  • Skin conditions, such as dandruff or rosacea

Using sunscreen and washing your face twice per day can help prevent milia.

Skin Cancer

A lump that bleeds or doesn't go away with treatment could be skin cancer. In that case, the lump is often yellowish and painless. The bump may ooze fluid and grow slowly. With time, the bump may even affect eyesight. Bumps may appear on both the upper and lower eyelids.

One of the most common causes of skin cancer is unprotected ultraviolet (UV) exposure. When the UV index in your area is three or higher, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends doing the following:

  • Staying in the shade
  • Using a broad-spectrum sunscreen
  • Wearing sunglasses and a wide-brimmed hat

Treating Eye Bumps

Treating your eyelid bump depends on the culprit. For example, if your eyelid bump is a stye or chalazion, it will likely resolve on its own. But you can speed up the draining process by applying a warm compress to the area for 10 minutes four times per day.

An ophthalmologist may need to drain styes and chalazia that stick around, become painful, affect vision, or continue to grow. Just don't try to squeeze the bump yourself, which could spread the infection. If the infection spreads, you may need antibiotics.

Similar to styes and chalazia, milia typically clear up on their own. Still, if they're bothersome, a healthcare provider can remove them with methods such as:

  • Extreme cold or heat
  • Laser surgery
  • Chemical peels
  • Dermabrasion
  • Medication

Removal can be tricky if your eyelid bump turns out to be skin cancer. But a dermatologist can refer you to a surgeon specializing in Mohs surgery. The surgeon will remove the affected area of the skin layer by layer until you're cancer-free. Mohs surgery is highly effective and minimizes scarring.

When To See a Healthcare Provider

While most eyelid bumps are harmless and fade by themselves, some lumps can signify something more serious. 

See a healthcare provider if your bump becomes very large or painful, doesn't improve within two weeks of home treatment, or if you notice any of the following symptoms:

  • The bump that starts to change
  • A hot feeling within the eyelid
  • Blistering, crusting, or scaling of the eyelid
  • Blood or pus coming from the bump
  • Excessive tears, sensitivity to light, or vision changes
  • Fever or chills
  • Pain that increases with home treatment
  • Recurring bumps
  • Redness of the entire eyelid or eye itself
  • Swelling that increases after the first two or three days
  • Lash loss in the area of the bump

A Quick Review

A bump on your eyelid could be a stye, chalazion, milium, or, in rare cases, skin cancer. Most eyelid bumps go away on their own. But if yours doesn't, or if it is accompanied by other concerning symptoms, it may help to consult a healthcare provider.

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11 Sources
Health.com uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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  2. American Academy of Ophthalmology. What are chalazia and styes?.

  3. National Library of Medicine. Chalazion.

  4. American Optometric Association. Chalazion.

  5. American Academy of Ophthalmology. What are milia?.

  6. American Academy of Dermatology Association. Signs and symptoms: On the eyelid.

  7. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. What can I do to reduce my risk of skin cancer?.

  8. National Library of Medicine. Eyelid bump.

  9. Shi Y, Jia R, Fan X. Ocular basal cell carcinoma: a brief literature review of clinical diagnosis and treatmentOnco Targets Ther. 2017;10:2483-2489. doi:10.2147/OTT.S130371

  10. Skin Cancer Foundation. Eyelid skin cancers.

  11. American Academy of Family Physicians. Sty.

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