By Dr. Jill Finke
Eyelids are wonderful creations to protect our eyes. They help to keep out intruders. They smooth moisture over the surface of the eyes like windshield wipers. And they provide coverage for our eye surface during some of our favorite hours–sleep!
When your eyelids are working well, it is likely you don’t give them a second thought. However, it is quite normal that at some point in your life you may notice a bump on your eyelid. Knowing some common causes may help you determine your next step if you notice a new bump.
One frequent cause of a bump on the eyelid is a stye, or hordeolum. This type of bump is an infection within an oil gland of the eyelid. The oil glands of your eyelids allow for moisture to be smoothed over the surface of your eyes when you blink. However, if bacteria finds its way into these moist, warm oil glands, an infection may result. Not only will you notice a bump on your eyelid, but the eyelid may feel sore and appear swollen and red. The first course of action in the presence of this type of bump is to start using warm, wet compresses on the affected eyelid for about 5-10 minutes four times per day. If the discomfort, redness, or swelling seem to be progressing, an evaluation with your eye care provider is recommended. Your eye doctor may recommend an antibiotic to help the infection clear up.
This stye can also lead to a different kind of eyelid bump, a non-infectious chalazion. In some cases, your body will detect the infection in the oil gland and encapsulate the infection in a cyst with firm walls. This cyst formation is your body’s way of fighting the spread of infection. However, most people do not enjoy being stuck with a hard bump in their eyelid. Frequently, continuing the warm compresses as above will gradually lead to the bump decreasing in size and disappearing. When the bump does not resolve with continued compresses, it is possible that the bump can be removed in the office of your eye care provider.
A third type of bump that is common to eyelids are skin growths and cysts. Skin growths are usually not red, swollen or painful. Usually these bumps develop slowly over a span of months. In many cases, the skin growths are benign. However, the area around your eyes is a common place for the development of skin cancers. If you notice a new bump developing on your eyelid or around your eye area that is an unusual color or seems to be changing in color or shape, make an appointment with your eye doctor.
Following this introduction to eyelid bumps, if you develop any new eyelid changes, you will be armed with some ideas on what a good next step is for your eyelid health. And if you have any additional questions or concerns, do not hesitate to reach out to your eye care provider for more helpful information.