Eyelid problems

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 aren't 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

How a pharmacist can help with eyelid problems

A pharmacist might be able to tell you:

  • 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 a GP if:

  • you're worried about an eyelid problem
  • you think it's an allergic reaction
  • 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
  • you have a rash on your body as well as lumps on your eyelids
  • you have a very high temperature, or feel hot and shivery, or you generally feel unwell
  • the side of your neck, armpits or groin feel swollen and painful (swollen lymph nodes)

Ask for an urgent GP appointment or go to A&E 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 or all over
  • you're sensitive to light (photophobia)
  • your eyesight changes, for example you see wavy lines or flashing
  • you have difficulty breathing
  • your mouth or tongue is swollen
  • you're lightheaded or confused
  • you feel faint or like you might collapse
  • you have blue skin or lips

Causes of eyelid problems

Your symptoms might give you an idea of the cause. Don't self-diagnose – see your GP if you're worried.

Lump on eyelid
Eyelid symptoms Possible causes
Painful lump, filled with pus like a pimple stye
Hard lump, not painful chalazion (meibomian cyst)
Yellow lumps or patches xanthelasma, sometimes caused by high cholesterol
Blisters or scabs with a rash on the body shingles or chickenpox
Mole, freckle or patch changes shape, colour or size skin cancer
Swollen eyelid
Eyelid symptoms Possible causes
Swelling after contact with something you're allergic to allergic reaction
Red, hot, painful, swollen cellulitis
Itchy, flaky or sticky eyelid
Eyelid symptoms Possible causes
Itchy, crusty or flaky after contact with something you're allergic to contact dermatitis
Sticky, with red, itchy, watery eyes conjunctivitis
Eyelids that stick together, crusty eyelashes, dry, red or irritated eyes blepharitis or dry eye syndrome
Drooping or hooded eyelid
Eyelid symptoms Possible causes
Lower eyelid drooping and turning outwards ectropion
Lower eyelid drooping and turning inwards entropion
Skin above upper eyelid drooping down over eye dermatochalasis
Edge of upper eyelid drooping down over eye ptosis
Sudden drooping with vision loss and headaches in rare cases, a serious condition like myasthenia gravis or brain tumour
Frequently twitching or blinking eyelid
Eyelid symptoms Possible causes
Frequent blinking or twitching, sometimes with uncontrollable eye closing a type of dystonia (movement disorder) called blepharospasm

Page last reviewed: 08/09/2017
Next review due: 08/09/2020

Call 111

If you can't speak to your GP and don't know what to do next.