Your eyelids

Eyelid problems

Allergies such as hay fever can make your eyelids sore, itchy, swollen and red on the inside.⁸ Working in a dry environment, like an air-conditioned office, can also make your eyelids feel dry.

Other things that can cause red or swollen eyelids include blepharitis, a stye, or a chalazion.

If you have blepharitis, you might have red, swollen or itchy eyelids. You might also have crusty eyelids or flaky skin on your eyelids. Blepharitis is an inflammation at the edge of your eyelid, where your eyelashes are attached and is caused by the presence of bacteria.  If you have blepharitis, it’s very important to keep your eyelids clean. Do this by washing your hands first and then using a warm compress for 8–10 minutes on your eyes, followed by improving your eyelid hygiene by gently cleaning your eyelids using or cotton wool and an eyelid cleanser such as Optase. You should rinse your eyelid with clean water afterwards and use a new cloth or piece of cotton wool for your other eye.

A stye looks like a red bump under your eyelid. It is usually red and sore, and you may have a swollen eyelid. The stye may also have yellow pus in it. A stye is usually caused by an infection in the eyelash follicle in your eyelid. Again, it will probably heal by itself in about a week, or you might need to take antibiotics. You can treat a stye at home using a warm compress and gently massaging the area, which can help to ease the swelling. You can also take painkillers. You should avoid wearing eye make-up or contact lenses while you have a stye, and you shouldn’t try to burst it yourself, as this can spread the infection further.

A chalazion can look like a stye but is usually less painful. It usually appears more slowly than a stye and lasts for longer – sometimes even months. A chalazion is not an infection, but a blockage in the oil glands in your eyelid. You can treat and soothe it using a warm compress and gentle massage, which can help to soften the hardened oil blocking the duct. It will probably go away by itself. If it doesn’t and if it’s irritable, you can get it surgically removed.

To prevent sore, swollen or red eyelids, it is important to keep your eyelids clean. Eyelid problems like blepharitis and styes can be caused by bacteria¹, and a chalazion can be caused by a buildup of oils.

If you have red, swollen or sore eyelids, come and see your optometrist. We will be able to tell you whether it’s blepharitis, a stye, a chalazion or something else. We can also recommend the best way to treat it.


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