Most bumps on the eyelid are styes. A stye is an inflamed oil gland on the edge of your eyelid, where the lash meets the lid. It appears as a red, swollen bump that looks like a pimple. It is often tender to the touch.
A stye is caused by a blockage of one of the oil glands in the eyelids. This allows bacteria to grow inside the blocked gland. Styes are a lot like common acne pimples that occur elsewhere on the skin. You may have more than one stye at the same time.
Styes most often develop over a few days. They may drain and heal on their own. A stye can become a chalazion, which occurs when an inflamed oil gland becomes fully blocked. If a chalazion gets large enough, it can cause trouble with your vision.
If you have blepharitis, you are more likely to get styes.
Other possible common eyelid bumps include:
In addition to the red, swollen bump, other possible symptoms of a stye include:
In most cases, your health care provider can diagnose a stye just by looking at it. Tests are rarely needed.
To treat eyelid bumps at home:
For a stye, your doctor may:
Styes often get better on their own. However, they may return.
The outcome is almost always excellent with simple treatment.
Sometimes, the infection may spread to the rest of the eyelid. This is called eyelid cellulitis and may require oral antibiotics. This can look like orbital cellulitis, which can be serious problem, especially in children.
Call your health care provider if:
Always wash your hands very well before touching the skin around your eye. If you are prone to getting styes or have blepharitis, it may help to carefully clean off excess oils from the edges of your lids. To do this, use a solution of warm water and no-tears baby shampoo. Fish oil taken by mouth may help prevent plugging of the oil glands.
Reviewed By: Franklin W. Lusby, MD, ophthalmologist, Lusby Vision Institute, La Jolla, CA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.