An Introduction to the Most Common Eyelid Cysts

If you have never had to deal with eyelid cysts, consider yourself quite lucky! Although cysts in this region are generally not a severe hindrance to one's health, they can be a little on the painful side and, if left untreated, can also lead to vision obstruction. Many of us have had an eyelash or small grain of dirt fly into our eye, and I think it's agreeable to say that the experience is definitely not a good one. The symptoms that accompany an eyelid cyst can be much worse than those of a stray hair or dust particles in one's eye. We are going to talk about the most common causes behind eyelid cysts and how they can be treated.

The term eyelid cysts actually include a number of conditions that can affect the eye.  We are going to talk about chalazions, abscesses, and apocrine (sweat gland) cysts, as these are the three most common forms of cysts that can affect the eyelid. A chalazion describes a lump that forms in the skin of the eyelid due to inflammation. This irritation is often a result of a blocked oil secretion gland near the edge of the eyelid where eyelashes grow. These glands can easily become blocked by dead skin, oil buildup, and makeup. The eyelid often becomes swollen with a chalazion, however it does not always appear red and irritated. Some people experience a bit of pain when the area is touched while others experience nothing but a swollen lump.

Chalazions can last anywhere from eight to sixteen weeks and usually go away naturally. One can speed up the recovery process by washing their face every day with a mild cleanser and applying a warm compress to the skin four times a day, leaving it on for about ten minutes each session. If the chalazion does not naturally go away after sixteen weeks, or if other symptoms develop (fever, blurred vision or deterioration in sight, headaches, or eyeball pain), then an eye specialist should be consulted. Antibiotic ointments or steroid eye drops can lend aid in the treatment process, but in severe cases minor surgery may be necessary.

Abscesses, often referred to as a "stye", are caused by an infection of the oil glands found near the eyelashes. They produce a lump in the skin similar to a chalazion, however they usually do not grow as large as chalazions. The oil glands in the skin of the eyelids can become infected a number of ways, such as touching one's eye without cleaning the skin or fingertips beforehand, using out of date cosmetics or toiletries, or using old or improperly cleaned contact lenses. The affected area usually turns red and becomes tender and swollen as the area fills with fluid. Sometimes the area may leak this fluid as it drains naturally.

Styes will usually go away on their own after about three days. During this time, it is important to keep the skin clean and steer clear of cosmetics until the infection has cleared up. Excess dead skin cells and cosmetics can cause further blockage and allow the infection to spread. Abscesses respond well to warm compresses and can greatly reduce the healing time. Again, the warm compress should be applied for about ten minutes at a time, four times a day. If after three days the stye seems to worsen or does not appear to have healed at all, it might be prudent to schedule an appointment with one's doctor who will likely prescribe an antibiotic ointment to apply topically to the area.

Apocrine cysts are quite common and usually do not produce any painful symptoms. These cysts appear as transparent bumps on the skin of the eyelid, although they can be found all over the body. This type of cyst is most often caused by blocked sebaceous glands or hair follicles that have become swollen. There is usually no medical reason to remove these cysts unless they become large or obstruct one's vision. If removal is desired, a simple surgical procedure can be performed to remove the fluid and skin of the cyst. Apocrine cysts are typically not a recurring issue for people.

Of course there are many other eyelid cysts that can develop, such as skin tags and moles. When it comes to the skin around one's eye, it is probably best to get the opinion of an eye specialist before attempting any kind of drastic treatment. It is also worth bearing in mind that the longer a cyst is left, the more likely it is to cause further damage to the skin and potentially one's vision.


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