A chalazion, also known as a meibomian cyst, is an infected lump in the eyelid caused by a blocked meibomian gland. It is a common condition and is usually painless. The lumps are about the size of a small pea but often vary in size and may disappear then reappear several times before settling down. A chalazion is not contagious, and eye sight is not affected.
Care at home
Most chalazions will spontaneously get better without medical intervention within a few months. Below are some treatments you can do at home to assist this process and possibly prevent them from coming back.
Apply warm compress and massage the eyeline
Use a clean, warmed (using hot water) washcloth held firmly against the closed eyelid for 2 – 5 minutes, 2 – 5 times per day. After applying the warmed washcloth, use a clean finger with a short fingernail or a cotton bud and massage towards the eyelashes with the eye closed. This can assist in easing any discomfort and encourages the chalazion to go away.
Keep the eye clean
Wash the eyes and face frequently with a clean facecloth. The eye can be bathed and flushed once to twice per day with a salt solution made using the following method:
- Boil water
- Put 1 teaspoon of ordinary table salt in a clean cup
- Add 250ml of boiling water and stir to dissolve
- Allow to cool to room temperature
Thoroughly clean your hands before and after you bathe the eye and surrounding areas with solution.
Antibiotic eye drops or tablets are only required if the chalazion/s becomes swollen, red and sore to touch, and does not improve with the above treatments.
Very occasionally the chalazion may require specialist treatment by an Ophthalmologist. This may even involve a small operation to drain the chalazion. Further information will be provided to you at the eye clinic appointment.
You should never attempt to “pop” or cut the chalazion with any sharp objects. This is extremely dangerous and can result in serious damage to the eye.
What if your child gets an infection?
Rarely the cyst can get infected, and this infection can spread to involve the whole eyelid and tissues surrounding the eye.
If any of the following signs of infection occur, please seek medical advice immediately:
- Swelling of the skin around the chalazion
- Redness or discolouration of the area
- Warmth and tenderness of affected area
- Acutely sticky, red eye with severe amounts of discharge
- Child is unable to open affected eye
Outpatients – Ophthalmology (2d)
Level 2, Queensland Children’s Hospital
501 Stanley Street, South Brisbane
t 07 3068 2630 | 07 3068 1111 (general enquiries)
In an emergency, always call 000.
If it’s not an emergency but you have any concerns, contact 13 Health (13 43 2584). Qualified staff will give you advice on who to talk to and how quickly you should do it. You can phone 24 hours a day, seven days a week.