Eyelid problems


Find out what to do if you have a lump on your eyelid, or an eyelid that's swollen, sticky, itchy, drooping or twitching.

Most eyelid problems are harmless

Many eyelid problems are not serious.

It's fairly common to have any of these problems:

  • a lump that goes away by itself after 3 or 4 weeks
  • mildly itchy, flaky or sticky eyelids that clear up by themselves
  • swelling from a nearby insect bite, injury or operation that goes away after a week or so
  • twitching or blinking from time to time - often when you're tired
  • eyelids that droop (or get more 'hooded') as you grow older

Types of eyelid problems

Your symptoms might give you an idea of the cause.  Don't self-diagnose  - see an optometrist/optician or a GP if you're worried.

Lump on eyelid

Symptom - painful lump, filled with pus like a pimple
Possible cause - stye

Symptom - Hard lump, not painful
Possible cause - chalazion (meibomian cyst)

Symptom - Yellow lumps or patches
Possible cause - xanthelasma, sometimes caused by high cholesterol

Symptom - Blisters or scabs with a rash on the body
Possible cause - shingles or chickenpox

Symptom - Mole, freckle or patch changes shape, colour or size
Possible cause - skin cancer

Swollen eyelid

Symptom  - Swelling after contact with something you're allergic to
Possible cause - allergic reaction

Symptom - Red, hot, painful, swollen
Possible cause - cellulitis

Itchy, flaky or sticky eyelid

Symptom - Itchy, crusty or flaky after contact with something you're allergic to
Possible cause - contact dermatitis

Symptom - Sticky, with red, itchy, watery eyes
Possible cause - conjunctivitis

Symptom - Eyelids that stick together, crusty eyelashes, dry, red or irritated eyes
Possible cause - blepharitis or dry eye syndrome

Drooping or hooded eyelid

Symptom - Lower eyelid drooping and turning outwards
Possible cause - ectropion

Symptom - Lower eyelid drooping and turning inwards
Possible cause - entropion

Symptom - Skin above upper eyelid drooping down over eye
Possible cause - dermatochalasis

Symptom - Edge of upper eyelid drooping down over eye
Possible cause - ptosis

Symptom - Sudden drooping with vision loss and headaches
Possible cause - rarely, a serious condition like myasthenia gravis or a brain tumour

Frequently twitching or blinking eyelid

Symptom - Frequent blinking or twitching, sometimes with uncontrollable eye closing
Possible cause - a type of dystonia (movement disorder) called blepharospasm

You can ask a pharmacist about:

  • what you can do to treat it yourself
  • if you can buy anything to help, for example cleaning solutions for sticky eyelids
  • if you need to see an optician or GP

See an optometrist/optician or a GP if:

  • you're worried about an eyelid problem
  • it's getting worse or lasting a long time
  • your eyelid is painful or you're in a lot of discomfort
  • you have yellow lumps or patches around your eyes

Find an optometrist/optician

Ask for an urgent GP or optometrists/opticians appointment or call 111 if:

  • your swollen eyelid is red, hot, painful, tender or blistered
  • your eyelid droops suddenly
  • the pain is in your eye (not your eyelid)
  • the white of your eye is very red, in part ot all over
  • you're sensitive to light (photophobia)
  • your eyesight changes, for example you see wavy lines or flashing
  • you have a very high temperature, or feel hot and shivery, or you feel generally unwell
  • you think it's an allergic reaction

NHS 111 Wales will tell you what to do. They can arrange a phone call from a nurse or doctor if you need one.

The information on this page has been adapted by NHS Wales from original content supplied by NHS UK NHS website nhs.uk
Last Updated: 07/12/2022 08:59:31