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  • Eye


A chalazion is a mass or cyst found in the upper or lower eyelid. It is benign, which means that it is not cancer. Chalazions are often chronic and can recur frequently.

What is going on in the body?

A chalazion starts with inflammation of the meibomian gland. This is an oil gland that makes a substance that is part of the tear film and helps to keep it from evaporating too fast.
The oil gland secretes oil continuously, but the tube through which the oil is secreted is very tortuous. In perfectly health people, the oil can stagnate and the drainage tube can become blocked..This causes the eyelid to become inflamed, and the chalazion develops. This condition may take a few days to a few weeks to develop.


What are the causes and risks of the condition?

Chalazions are usually caused by a buildup of secretions in the meibomian gland that form a cyst. Chalazions occur in both adults and children. They may be linked with other skin conditions, such as seborrheic dermatitis, blepharitis, and rosacea.


What can be done to prevent the condition?

Good eyelid hygiene will help prevent chalazions. The lashes and eyelids should be cleaned daily and all eye makeup completely removed. Hot compresses applied daily while in the shower help to keep the oil flowing and decrease the chance of recurrence.


How is the condition diagnosed?

A healthcare professional can make the diagnosis of chalazion by looking at the eyelid and feeling the mass.

Long Term Effects

What are the long-term effects of the condition?

If the chalazion is left untreated, the eyelid can be permanently scarred, resulting in lost or crooked eyelashes. A large, untreated chalazion can cause astigmatism and blurred vision.

Other Risks

What are the risks to others?

A chalazion is not contagious and presents no risk to others.


What are the treatments for the condition?

Most chalazions go away on their own in a few weeks or months. If not, hot packs used for 10 minutes -two times a day may help reduce the chalazion. Antibiotic ointments and drops are of no help.
Oral antibiotics are not usually given for this problem. If the chalazion is quite large or has not responded to treatment, it may be removed surgically. Local anesthesia is used, and the lid is usually turned inside out with a lid clamp. This allows the healthcare professional to drain the lesion and completely remove it from the underside of the lid.
Then the professional applies a pressure bandage with antibiotic ointment. This bandage must be kept in place for several hours. An antibiotic ointment can be used for 4 to 5 days. Rarely, a corticosteroid medicine is injected into the chalazion instead of surgery. However, in people with dark skin this can lead to discoloration.

Side Effects

What are the side effects of the treatments?

Side effects depend on the treatment used. Surgery carries a risk of infection, minor bleeding, and damage to the eye itself if the patient moves due to inadequate anesthesia..

After Treatment

What happens after treatment for the condition?

If a chalazion occurs repeatedly or has a solid appearance, a biopsy may be done. This will help rule out an extremely rare cancer called sebaceous gland carcinoma. However, cancer is unlikely. Most recurrences occur in people with underling rosacea, which should be treated.


How is the condition monitored?

Any new or worsening symptoms should be reported to the healthcare professional.


Professional Guide to Diseases, Springhouse, 1995.

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