Published: 01/29/2015 - Updated: 04/20/2016
For a lot of us, “chalazion” is probably a strange and unknown word. However, this problem could affect eyelids more commonly than one might think.
A chalazion is a type of cyst that develops on the sebaceous glands behind eyelashes, known as the Meibomian gland. Once a chalazion forms, it looks like a bump or a protuberance on the border of the eyelid.
Why do chalazions form?
Meibomian glands produce sebum, or oil, that is used to lubricate the surface of the eye. It also lengthens the duration of this lubrication, however, in the event of any alteration, the ducts can become blocked which traps oil, creating a lump which is known as a “cyst”. The contents of this cyst are then trapped inside.
Although it isn’t painful, it could become infected and in fact, they are prone to becoming infected, which aggravates the problem. A lot of time this becomes very painful and the infected area become considerably inflamed, which is why hygiene is very important.
Developing a chalazion
Initially, chalazions appear as a pain or a prickly sensation in a localized area around the eyelid, which will later disappear, leaving in its place a small lump. This lump is generally visible to the naked eye, and in the majority of cases, it is not painful.
If the chalazion becomes infected, or advances to an acute phase, it could be very painful, and accompanied by swelling in the eyelid. It could even start to leak in some cases.
Caring for a chalazion
It is very important not to squeeze or pinch a chalazion because this could lead to an infection or further complications. You also shouldn’t touch it, and much less so if your hands are dirty.
Hygiene is vital for preventing the appearance of more chalazions. Washing your eyelashes is recommended, which can be done using a Q-tip and baby shampoo. It is recommended to wash your eyelashes daily.
Cleaning your eyelashes:
- Rinse your eyes with warm water, without scrubbing them, while they’re closed.
- Using a Q-tip, apply baby shampoo around your eyelashes, keeping your eyes closed.
- Rinse with plenty of water, without scrubbing.
- Apply a drop of lubricant one each of your eyes, after cleaning your eyelashes.
Treatment for chalazions may vary from applying topical corticosteroids to surgery. However, there are natural alternatives that can be very useful and effective.
We should mention that in a lot of cases, chalazions disappear by themselves after a few months, sometimes longer.
The first measure in order for tending to your chalazion consists of applying heat, because this softens the encapsulated oil, allowing it to drain or even disappear.
When hot compresses don’t alleviate your chalazion, you could use conventional methods like applying corticosteroids, or even directly injecting the corticosteroid into the chalazion, which resolves roughly 80% of these cases.
Surgery is a last resort, which consists of opening, draining, and extracting the “pod” to prevent it from forming again. This is an outpatient surgery and is normally a very quick procedure performed with local anesthesia. During recovery after surgery, your eyelid may be inflamed, but this inflammation usually disappears completely after a few days.
Warm or hot compresses are the best option for treating a chalazion.
Prevention: For the first few hours, whenever you sense the pain that precedes a chalazion, we recommend beginning to apply warm compresses over the area, in an attempt to prevent its growth. Apply between 5 to 10 minutes, three times a day.
Hot compresses: use a clean cloth or bandage, moistened with warm water, and apply to the chalazion without applying pressure. Once it is no longer hot, remoisten the cloth with clean water. Remember that hygiene is very important. Repeat three times a day until the chalazion disappears.
Guava leaves: This plant helps reduce inflammation. In order to use it, wash and disinfect the leaf well. Then, moisten it in hot water, apply to the affected eyelid and then apply the hot compress over the leaf.
Massage: In order to promote drainage in the chalazion, place your finger behind the chalazion and gently press toward the rim of your eyelash a few times. Apply hot compresses immediately afterward.
You need to remember that it could take a long time for chalazions to disappear completely, and natural remedies take time too. That’s why you always need to be consistent and patient in order to make them disappear. Do not forget to see a specialist.