Just as a paper cut makes you appreciate how hard working your fingers actually are, an eyelid cyst will make you value your eyesight, and even the simple act of blinking, so much more.
When your upper or lower eyelid becomes swollen due to a blocked oil gland, a small, hard lump, called a Meibomian cyst or chalazion, can form under the skin. This lump is usually not painful, but it can be uncomfortable.
Note: A cyst is often confused with a stye. A stye is an infection of the eyelash follicle, which is usually red and painful. A cyst usually develops further away from the eyelid than a stye. 1 A cyst is usually not the result of an infection, although a stye can become a cyst if it is left untreated. 2
Never squeeze or try to drain an eyelid cyst. 3 This can cause pain and additional eye problems. Left alone, many eyelid cysts will clear up on their own after about a month.
To speed up the process, here are 10 at-home remedies to try.
1. Warm Compress
Your first line of defense for dealing with an eyelid cyst is the easiest. Apply a warm compress to the cyst to help open up the blocked oil gland. Soak a clean washcloth in hot water and apply it to your cyst. Keep it there from five to 15 minutes, repeating three to four times per day until the cyst fades.4
After applying a warm compress, you can further aid the healing of your chalazion by massaging it. With clean hands, gently massage the eyelid area, including the cyst. 5 Take care not to push too hard – you don’t want to rupture the cyst. The aim of massage and warm compresses is to get the cyst to drain on its own, so don’t be surprised if it discharges a white or yellow liquid. 6
3. Tea Tree Oil
Tea tree oil is an essential oil made from the Australian tea tree. One study suggests that some people with recurrent eyelid cysts actually had an infestation of the microscopic skin parasite demodex. 7 For these patients, an eyelid scrub made from 50 percent tea tree oil helped stop the recurrence of eyelid cysts. Just bear in mind it’s important to dilute tea tree oil when using it on your skin, especially around your eyes.
A dilution of 50 percent water to 50 percent tea tree oil is safe for an eyelid wash, but be careful not to get the solution into your eyes.
4. Eyelid Towelettes
Eyelid towelettes are usually pre-moistened, individually wrapped pads you can use to help sanitize the area. Typically, you use these by first rubbing on the packet to develop the latter, sweeping it gently across your eyelid (while your eyes are closed), then rinsing off with warm water. These are effective at cleansing the skin around your eyes, which can help treat and prevent eyelid cysts. 9 If you prefer to DIY it, moisten a flat cotton pad with mild baby shampoo.
5. Omega-3 Fatty Acid Supplements
Omega-3 fatty acids are essential to human health, and must be consumed through diet for a healthy body. 10 There is some evidence that omega-3s influence eye health. A 2008 study showed that taking oral supplements of omega-3 fatty acids, such as fish oil, can lead to less eyelid problems. 11
6. Vitamin A
Deficiencies in vitamin A have been associated with recurrent eyelid cysts, especially in young children. Vitamin A deficiencies are rare in developed countries, but sometimes occur in people with restricted diets. To lessen your chance for recurring cysts, make sure you get enough of this essential vitamin through your diet or via supplements. Adults need between 700 and 900 micrograms of vitamin A per day.
7. Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar is a popular home remedy for eyelid cysts. This may be because vinegar has been proven to kill bacteria. Apple cider vinegar is also has anti-inflammatory properties.
To use apple cider vinegar on your eyelids, dilute one teaspoon of vinegar to one cup of warm water. In order to avoid irritation, make sure to do a patch test on your wrist or neck before using apple vinegar on your face. Soak a washcloth or cotton ball in the solution, and then wipe it gently across your eyelids. Repeat several times daily until the chalazion goes away.
8. Aloe Vera Gel
Aloe gel is renowned for its soothing nature, especially on inflamed or irritated skin. It is also beneficial because it contains salicylic acid, which is known to curb oil production. Excess oil is at the root of blogged oil glands so aloe vera gel may also prevent recurrent cysts if you seem to get them often.
Apply aloe vera gel onto the eyelid using a soft cotton ball, and take care to not get it into your eyes.
9. Tea Bags
Tea bags have long been used as a soothing treatment for tired, puffy eyes, but they can also help in the fight against eyelid cysts. This is because the tannic acid in tea helps to reduce swelling
Take a tea bag and soak it in warm water. Then, lie down and place the tea bag over your swollen eyelid. You can do this several times a day, as needed.
10. Guava Leaves
Yep, the leaves of the mighty guava fruit can actually come in pretty handy when it comes to eyelid cysts. This is because the leaves contain some natural anti-inflammatory compounds. Which is exactly what you need to reduce swelling on your eyelid.
Take a few guava leaves and rinse. Then boil them for around 5 minutes in a pot of water. Lie back and place the warm leaf over your eyelid until it cools. You can then pick up another warm leaf and continue.
When to See a Doctor
If you have a chalazion for longer than a month, or if you lose vision in one or both eyes, you should seek medical help. Likewise, pain in and around your eye is a sign that you should see your doctor.
Eyelid cysts are definitely an annoying problem, and they are virtually impossible to ignore – so don’t. Use these at-home treatments to gently help your cyst heal. After it’s gone, be sure to practice good eye hygiene to prevent recurrence. Don’t touch your eyes, and toss old eye makeup. Your eyesight is crucial, so make sure to take good care of your eyes.
Article updated: March 29, 2018
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6. “Landa & Landa Eye Care Specialists, LLC”. Landa & Landa Eye Care Specialists, LLC. N.p., 2017. Web. 1 May 2017.
7. Yam JC, et al. “Ocular Demodicidosis As A Risk Factor Of Adult Recurrent Chalazion. – Pubmed – NCBI”. N.p., 2017. Web. 1 May 2017.
9. “Omega-3 Fatty Acids”. University of Maryland Medical Center. N.p., 2017. Web. 1 May 2017.
10.”Omega-3 Fatty Acids”. University of Maryland Medical Center. N.p., 2017. Web. 1 May 2017.
11. Macsai, Marian. “The Role Of Omega-3 Dietary Supplementation In Blepharitis And Meibomian Gland Dysfunction (An AOS Thesis)”. PubMed Central (PMC). N.p., 2017. Web. 1 May 2017.