Maya's clog.

...a medical illustrator draws comics and writes blog posts

chalazions and what to do about them

A few years ago, I got a mysterious inflamed bump on my eyelid, which I later learned was a "chalazion" - something I had never heard of before.sad eyelid bumpsOuch ouch and ugly and embarrassing!ouch eyelid chalazionI didn't know what it was, I was uninsured, and I was busy stressing about grad school, so I let it grow and then harden into a less-inflamed but more permanent lump. Later, a dear family friend [and doctor] diagnosed me over the phone, and told me to go see somebody. After a few calls, I found somebody who would remove it, talked my parents into funding it, received a small but icky surgery, and was well on my way to healing. But then they started coming back! The second time I went in, I had 3 or 4 removed at once, on both eyes. Not fun. And when I asked how to prevent them, I was told to continue keeping my eyelids clean with some expensive eyewashing pads, but that they would keep coming back anyway since I was prone to them. Frustrating! The next time one started, I went to see an "eyelid specialist" and he told me a similar story. BUT he also said to use hot compresses a lot more and to try washing with baby shampoo as a last resort.

The baby shampoo + washcloth helped. (I have since switched to more natural cleansers, with the same results. Just having fewer chemicals in my life.) But what worked really REALLY well was regular hot water compresses. I want to share my procedure. You can combine this with your surgery if you need one, and also use it for prevention (it will even reverse small new chalazions.)

(First go do all your research about what a chalazion IS, and see your doc if needed.)

1. Do this every time you shower. It's way less messy than over the sink, you get enough water, and it's very easy to remember to shower every day. You can add additional compresses in between but this will give you a base of one great eye-soak every day.

2. Wash your face and gently scrub your eyelids with gentle soap and washcloth. Keep them closed; soap stings. Rinse.

3. Use washcloth to gently rub eyelid back and forth. Imagine trapped oil melting away and your oil glands becoming unclogged along your lash line. Slight eye-rubbing seems very helpful for loosening things, just don't do it with dirty hands.

4. Fold your washcloth into a compress and drench with hot (shower-temperature) water. Soak eyes. Think about life. Repeat (refreshing the hot water) for 5 minutes. One minute is enough if you are just preventing.

washcloth compress for soakingTa-da! Prevented. Whenever I find some eyelid irritation starting, I get more serious about this regimen and it clears right up. No more surgeries for me. I hope this helps you too.

Other things that seem to help are getting sleep, eating healthy foods, and reducing stress... but I know those are easier said than done. Now start soaking!