An eyelid cyst, medically known as a chalazion, is a small lump that appears under the skin of the eyelid because of a blocked oil gland. It can develop on the lower or upper eyelid. It is not contagious and is more common in adults than children.
An eyelid cyst is similar to a sty, but it is usually larger and less painful. It is characterized by a localized hard lump and swelling that spreads to the area around the eye and may occasionally cause pain and irritation. When infected, it can become more swollen, red and painful.
The most common cause of eyelid cysts is blockage and inflammation of the oil-producing meibomian glands in the eyelids. People with a history of chalazion and those who often touch their eyelids with unclean hands are more prone to this problem. Some people have naturally thicker Meibomian gland secretions than others, making them susceptible to blocked oil glands leading to chalazions.
Eyelid cysts are usually not serious and only rarely obstruct vision or pose an immediate problem for the eye. Most eyelid cysts heal on their own within 2 to 8 weeks. However, you can use some home remedies to help them heal faster.
Here are the top 10 home remedies for eyelid cysts.
1. Warm Compress
A warm compress is one of the best remedies for eyelid cysts. The heat helps increase blood circulation to the area and promotes drainage of the gland. It also helps reduce pain and swelling.
- Soak a soft cloth in hot water (clean and sterilized water) and wring out the excess.
- Hold this warm, moist cloth on your closed eyelid for 5 to 10 minutes.
- Repeat 3 to 4 times a day for 2 weeks.
You can also try facial steaming.
Gently massaging the affected eyelid can help accelerate the process of draining. This will promote quick healing.
- Wash your hands with soap and water.
- Apply a warm compress on your closed eyelid for 5 minutes.
- Using your fingers, gently massage the area in the upward direction.
- Massage for 2 to 3 minutes a few times daily.
3. Guava Leaves
Another popular home remedy for eyelid cysts is guava leaves. The leaves contain anti-inflammatory compounds that help reduce swelling and pain. In addition, their natural healing power helps speed up recovery.
- Wash 5 or 6 guava leaves thoroughly.
- Warm these leaves in the microwave for a few seconds or simply put them in boiling water for 5 minutes.
- Place one warm leaf on the affected eye. You can also place a damp, warm cloth over it.
- When the leaf cools down, replace it with a new warm leaf.
- Repeat this remedy twice daily for several days.
4. Acacia Leaves
Using an infusion prepared from acacia leaves can also help reduce the pain and swelling associated with eyelid cysts, thanks to its anti-inflammatory and antiseptic properties.
- Heat 2 cups of water and boil a handful of acacia leaves in it.
- When the solution is comfortably warm, remove the leaves, soak a piece of clean cloth in the solution, and use it as a warm compress.
- Repeat a few times a day for several days.
Note: Make sure you wash the leaves thoroughly before using.
5. Apple Cider Vinegar
Many people have also reported positive results after using apple cider vinegar compresses for eyelid cysts. Its anti-inflammatory and antiseptic properties help reduce pain and inflammation and even fight infection.
- Put 2 teaspoons of organic raw, unfiltered apple cider vinegar in 1 cup of hot water. Soak a cotton ball in this solution and apply it on the affected area for about a minute. Follow this remedy three times daily for a few days.
- Also, mix 1 tablespoon of raw, unfiltered apple cider vinegar in a cup of water. Drink it twice daily for a few weeks.
6. Castor Oil
Castor oil has high anti-inflammatory properties that can help reduce pain and inflammation associated with an eyelid cyst. It can help bring down the size of a cyst quickly, which in turn means quick healing.
- First, apply a warm compress over the affected eyelid for 5 minutes. Then, use a cotton swab to apply castor oil on the affected area. Follow this remedy twice daily for 1 to 2 weeks.
- Alternatively, mix ½ teaspoon of turmeric powder with enough castor oil to make a thick paste. After washing the cyst with warm water, apply this paste on the affected area. Leave it on for 15 minutes, before rinsing with warm water. Repeat three times daily until the cyst is gone.
7. Green Tea Bags
Green tea bags are also effective in treating an eyelid cyst. Green tea has anti-inflammatory properties that help reduce pain and inflammation and reduce the size of a cyst. Moreover, being rich in tannic acid, it also helps keep infection at bay.
- Dip a green tea bag in warm water for 5 minutes.
- Remove the tea bag from the water and squeeze out the excess.
- Hold the moist tea bag over the affected eyelid for 5 minutes.
- Repeat a few times daily.
8. Aloe Vera
Another effective treatment for eyelid cysts is aloe vera. Its anti-inflammatory property can help reduce redness, swelling and inflammation. In addition, it has antibacterial properties that help fight infection.
- Cut open a fresh aloe leaf and extract the gel. Apply the gel directly on the affected area. Leave it on for 15 to 20 minutes, then rinse it off with lukewarm water. Repeat this remedy a few times daily for a week.
- Another option is to soak a cotton ball in aloe vera gel for 5 minutes, then apply it on the cyst for 20 minutes. Wait 2 hours, then reapply again. Use this treatment for a week.
Note: Rinse the aloe vera leaf thoroughly before extracting the gel.
Parsley helps draw out toxic materials from eyelid cysts, in turn promoting healing. It also acts as a mild antibacterial agent that fights infection.
- Place a handful of fresh parsley in a small bowl.
- Pour a cup of boiling water over it and allow the water to cool.
- Dip a clean washcloth in this water and wring out the excess.
- Place this warm, moist cloth over the affected area for 15 minutes.
- Follow this remedy about 3 times a day for a week.
10. Maintain Personal Hygiene
When you have an eyelid cyst, maintaining personal hygiene can promote quick recovery. It will also help fight off infection.
- Wash your eyelids regularly with a little baby shampoo mixed in warm water.
- Do not share towels or handkerchiefs with anyone, including family members.
- Wash your hands and fingers thoroughly before touching your eyes.
- Keep the area around your eyes clean at all times.
- Try your best not to touch or rub your eyes.
- If you use cosmetics, stop using them, for some time. Avoid using lenses as well.
- Avoid sharing your eye makeup, even with those closest to you.
- Replace eye makeup, especially mascara, at least every 6 months.
- Protect your eyes from dust and air pollution.
- Do not squeeze or scratch the cyst. Let it open on its own.
Expert Answers (Q&A)
Answered by Dr. Annie Negrin, MD (Ophthalmologist)
Can an eyelid cyst disappear without any treatment?
Sometimes patients get lucky when even without treatment, the oily material dissolves on its own without any infections or scarring. There is no way to tell if you will be lucky, so I always advise patients to apply warm compresses at the first hint of a stye developing.
What are the best ways of preventing chalazion?
Warm compresses! Just 2 or 3 minutes of warm compresses applied every morning can prevent styes from developing. You can do this very easily and conveniently when taking a warm shower- just close your eyes for a couple of minutes when in the shower and allow the drops to gently “pound” on your eyes.
At the first symptoms of a stye (“Oh my lid is hurting” or “It feels like I have one coming!”) start right away with a few sessions of warm compresses, and it will likely never amount to a real stye! I also advise my patients to continue warm compresses a few more days after they feel the stye is gone since there’s almost always a small amount of lipid still mildly blocked that can collect again.
What is the difference between a stye and a chalazion?
A stye is the layman’s term for the acute bump when you first get it. The medical term for this is an acute hordeolum. A chalazion is the medical term for when that stye becomes chronic. Over a month or so is usually how long until we call it a chalazion.
Can a chalazion spread to the other eye?
Not really if you think about what a stye is – because it is hard for a gland in one eye to catch a blockage from a gland in the other eye. If you develop a secondary infection like conjunctivitis (bacterial or viral), that can easily spread to the other eye without proper precautions.
With that said, if you have chronic blepharitis and tend to get styes, the chances of having one in either eye at any time are higher than average
Styes are one of the most common reasons for emergency visits to the ophthalmologist. If you or your child are prone to this problem, then a few helpful tips can help prevent a stye before it starts to develop.
Please provide some tips for preventing and/or treating styes for the benefit of our readers.
- Warm Compresses
This is the most important and effective treatment for any stye.
Styes are basically clogged oil glands along the length of the eyelids. The best way to unclog a clogged oil gland is through warmth and compression. It helps melt the blocked oil. Also, it soothes the eyelid glands and improves the quality of your tears.
An easy way to prepare a warm compress is to soak a washcloth in clean water and microwave it until it is comfortably warm. (Microwaving the wet cloth helps it stay warm for at least 10 minutes.) Place the warm cloth over your closed eyelids and massage gently. Do this twice daily for 10 to15 minutes until you no longer feel any bump. While your eyes are closed, you can also play some music to make the time more relaxing!
I advise patients to really commit to warm compresses early and often, since once a stye goes on to become a chalazion, it is often walled off and tough to treat without locally excising it.
For chronic blepharitis, your ophthalmologist may even have a lipid melting device like LipiFlow. This 10-20 minutes treatment goes over your eyelids and heats the glands. It is widely not covered by insurance and can add up in cost as several sessions over time are often needed.
- Eyelid Hygiene
The eyelids naturally hold lots of bacteria that tend to wreak havoc on the eyelids when the eyelid glands get backed up. You can prevent these microbes from causing trouble in your eyes by using a gentle cleanser like baby shampoo.
Lather up the cleanser with a little warm water, apply it on your closed eyelids and gently clean them from side to side with your fingers or a washcloth. Make sure you do this daily in the morning and every evening.
As men do not tend to wear makeup, they tend to have the worst eyelid skin due to lack of cleansing at the end of the day. So, men can get single-use lid wipes for the gym or just on-the-go without access to water. These lid wipes are particularly good for the summer when our glands act up. In some cases, your ophthalmologist may recommend some prescription-strength lid cleansers for you.
- Omega-3 Oils
Low levels of essential fatty acids in your diet can contribute to clogged glands and dry eyes. Omega-3 fatty acids help improve the health of your blood vessels, heart, and brain. The good news is that it also helps our tear glands!
Studies have shown that adding these healthy fats to your diet helps with frequent styes. In addition, they have been found to slow the progression of macular degeneration
Walnuts, salmon, sardines, anchovies, and flax seeds are good sources of omega-3 fatty acids. You can also take fish oil capsules or other omega-3 supplements.
Dr. Anne Negrin, MD: Dr. Negrin attended Cornell University and received her MD from New York Medical College. She completed a year of internal medicine training at North Shore-LIJ Hospital in Manhasset, Long Island, and then completed her Ophthalmology residency training at St. Vincent’s Catholic Medical Centers of Brooklyn and Queens. A Board Certified Comprehensive Ophthalmologist; she sees patients from newborn to senior years.
writes regularly on a variety of health and wellness topics and can also be seen on various TV and cable news shows as a contributing medical commentator. She runs a private practice in Westchester, NY, and is a passionate educator.