Eyelid Bumps and Lumps

Baltimore Washington Eye Center, Maryland

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Benign Eyelid Lumps and Bumps-What Are They?

Here are descriptions/definitions of some of the eyelid lumps and bumps that are seen most often.
·         Chalazion- also referred to as a "stye"- this is chronic inflammation that is caused by a clogged oil gland in the eyelid. These can be single or multiple and can occur in both upper and lower eyelids. Chalazia can affect vision if they grow large enough to cause the lid to droop over the eye. The treatment is initially hot compresses, but if that fails they oftentimes require surgery.

·         Hordeolum- also referred to as a "stye"- this is the earlier stages of a chalazion where the clogged oil gland is actively infected and is swollen, red, and tender.  These may resolve on their own or may need local antibiotic treatment along with hot compresses.

·         Cysts- small fluid filled sacs; these can become infected, but this is not common. They usually grow slowly. If they contain clear fluid, they appear translucent; if they contain proteinaceous fluid, they can appear white or yellowish. Cysts can affect your vision if they grow large enough and rub the eye. The treatment is surgical, but the cysts can sometimes recur after removal.

·         Papillomas- painless pink or skin colored bumps; if they grow on the eyelid margin, they can rub the eye and be irritating. Most are benign, but if there is a suspicious growth pattern, they can be a sign of an early skin cancer. Treatment is surgical and biopsies can be sent if there is high suspicion for malignancy.

·         Xanthelasma- painless raised yellow plaques on the eyelids and on the surrounding skin; these are often associated with age, but can occasionally be a sign of a systemic condition, such as high cholesterol or primary biliary cirrhosis. Excision of the lesions is not recommended unless they are very small because they cannot be removed without also removing the overlying skin, which could potentially leave  a cosmetically unappealing scar.

·         Milia- pinpoint, nontender white lesions on the eyelids or surrounding skin that are often mistaken for acne; however, these lesions are not inflamed nor do they contain pus. They are actually small cysts filled with proteinaceous material and dead skin cells that appears just under the skin. They can be present in people of all ages, from newborns to the elderly. The treatment, usually for cosmetic reasons, is surgical.