Eyelid problems - NHS

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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 get older

Types 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
A table of causes of lumps on eyelids
Eyelid symptoms Possible causes
Painful lump, filled with pus like a pimple stye
Hard lump, not painful
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
A table of symptoms of swollen eyelids
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
A table of symptoms of itchy, flaky or sticky eyelids
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
A table of symptoms of drooping eyelids
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 rarely, a serious condition like myasthenia gravis or a brain tumour
Frequently twitching or blinking eyelid
A table of symptoms of twitching eyelids
Eyelid symptoms Possible causes
Frequent blinking or twitching, sometimes with uncontrollable eye closing 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

Non-urgent advice: See 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
Information:

Coronavirus update: how to contact a GP

It's still important to get help from a GP if you need it. To contact your GP surgery:

  • visit their website
  • use the NHS App
  • call them

Find out about using the NHS during coronavirus

Urgent advice: Ask for an urgent GP 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 or 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

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.

Page last reviewed: 2 October 2020
Next review due: 2 October 2023