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 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

Top of Page

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

Find a pharmacy

Top of Page

When to get medical help

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)

Get advice from 111 now 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

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

Go to NHS 111 or call 111.

Other ways to get help

Get an urgent GP appointment

A GP may be able to help you.

Ask your GP practice for an urgent appointment.

Top of Page

Causes of eyelid problems

Your symptoms might give you an idea of the cause. Do not self-diagnose – see a 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
Go back to the top of this page