Treating eyelid problems

The upper and lower eyelids play an essential role in protecting the eye.

The most common eyelid problems include styes and chalazions. Chalazions and styes start with redness and swelling of the eyelid. At the beginning, they can be difficult to differentiate.

Styes are an infection of the rim of the eyelid, which start with redness of the eyelid and are often followed by a white spot (pus). Styes are painful, and even more so when we touch them. They are caused by the “staphylococcus aureus” bacteria.

A chalazion is an inflammatory lesion which occurs within the eyelid due to an obstructed gland. A swollen area thus forms on the eyelid, containing liquid. This creates a small bump which makes the skin bulge. A chalazion is not usually painful.

It’s obviously very important to differentiate eyelid problems from illnesses affecting the eye itself, which have different causes and treatments.


Even though the mechanisms behind styes and chalazions are well known, we often don’t know what causes the appearance of a lesion in any given person. This may be due to the use of an expired make-up product or due to contact between dirty fingers and the eyelid.


The application of hot compresses for 5-10 minutes two to three times per day is useful for both styes and chalazions. These eyelid problems are very frequent and often heal themselves within a few days.

A local treatment, such as an ointment, may speed up the healing process (such as tobramycin).

Medical intervention may be needed in certain situations, but luckily these are very rare.


Some cases require a more in-depth evaluation: for example, if the eyelid or eye problem occurs following an impact, if the person has a fever, if both eyelids are affected or if the lesions are accompanied by a skin problem.

For more information

You can find further information on styes and chalazions on the Manuel Merck website.


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