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What is a chalazion?

A chalazion is an inflammatory lump or cyst on the eyelid caused by the blockage of an oil gland in the eyelid. Both your upper and lower eyelid may be affected and you can have more than one lesion. They are more common if you have an eye condition called blepharitis or if you have eczema.

A chalazion is not a stye, which is an infection at the base of an eyelash.

Labeled parts of the eye with Chalazion in an oil gland
Parts of the eye including: Chalazion in an oil gland, Iris, Lens, Cornea and Normal oil gland

What are the symptoms?

  • A lump on the eyelid
  • Mild redness, tenderness or swelling of the lid can occur
  • Vision may be slightly distorted if the lesion is large enough to press on the eye

What is the treatment for chalazion?

  • Chalazia usually resolve without surgical intervention over 6-8 weeks.
  • Using a face-washer or disposable makeup pad as a hot compress for several minutes 3-4 times a day, can help you with discomfort and inflammation.
  • Massaging your eyelids and lashes after hot compresses may improve drainage of your blocked gland. Glands are vertical in the lid, so massaging towards your lid margin and eyelashes is most effective.
  • Cleaning your eyelids twice a day with warm water and dilute baby shampoo.
  • Antibiotic drops, ointment or tablets are usually not necessary unless your doctor thinks you are at risk of infection.
  • A persistent chalazion, if bothersome, can be surgically drained under local anaesthesia. Children usually require a general anaesthetic.

Things to remember

Contact your Family doctor if you have:

  • Signs of infection such as increased eyelid redness, swelling or pain.
  • Persistent bothersome chalazia not resolving after 6-8 weeks may benefit from surgical drainage by an ophthalmologist. This procedure is performed in an Operating Theatre.
  • Please note: atypical, persistent, chalazia recurring in the same area may indicate a serious condition requiring referral to an ophthalmologist.

Where can I get more information on chalazion?

Disclaimer This document describes the generally accepted practice at the time of publication only. It is only a summary of clinical knowledge regarding this area. The Royal Victorian Eye and Ear Hospital makes no warranty, express or implied, that the information contained in this document is comprehensive. They accept no responsibility for any consequence arising from inappropriate application of this information.

  • Chalazion #21
  • Owner: Emergency Department
  • Last Reviewed: July 15, 2020
  • Next Review: July 15, 2023