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What is a lash egg?

A lash egg, also known as an eyelash cyst or chalazion, is a small, painless lump that develops along the edge of the eyelid. Lash eggs are caused by blocked oil glands in the eyelid and can occur in anyone, though they are more common in adults. While usually harmless, lash eggs can be uncomfortable or affect vision if they grow large. Here is a comprehensive guide to lash eggs, including what causes them, symptoms, treatment options, and how to prevent them.

What Causes a Lash Egg?

Lash eggs form when an oil gland along the eyelid becomes clogged. The medical name for these glands is meibomian glands. There are over 50 meibomian glands running vertically across the upper and lower eyelids. Their job is to secrete oil that helps keep tears in the eyes from evaporating too quickly.

When a meibomian gland becomes blocked, the oil gets backed up and leads to swelling and irritation. Over time, the blocked gland and trapped oil transform into a firm, painless lump known as a lash egg. Doctors aren’t entirely sure what causes the glands to become obstructed in the first place. Potential reasons include:

  • Infection – Bacterial infections, especially styes, can spread to the meibomian glands and cause inflammation.
  • Hormones – Hormonal changes related to puberty, menstruation, pregnancy, and menopause may contribute to gland blockages.
  • Eyelid dysfunction – Issues with the eyelid not closing fully at night may disrupt meibomian gland secretions.
  • Medications – Some medications like oral acne medicines may increase eyelid inflammation.
  • Eye diseases – Chronic inflammatory eye conditions like rosacea and blepharitis are associated with plugged meibomian glands.
  • Aging – Meibomian glands work less efficiently as we age, making blockages more common in older adults.

In many cases, the exact reason the oil gland became clogged is unknown. Anything that causes swelling, debris buildup, or poor oil flow in the eyelids can potentially lead to a lash egg forming.

Lash Egg Symptoms

The most common symptom of a lash egg is a painless bump or nodule on the upper or lower eyelid near the lash line. Lash eggs can range in size from very small to over 1 centimeter across. They tend to be round or oval-shaped and may feel firm or spongy. Other symptoms can include:

  • Gritty or irritated feeling in the eye
  • Redness or swelling of the eyelid
  • Heavy feeling or tension in the eyelid
  • Excess tearing or discharge
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Difficulty fully closing the eyelid
  • Blurry or obstructed vision if the lash egg is large

Sometimes a lash egg starts out looking like a stye with redness and tenderness. As it develops into a firm lump beneath the skin, the discomfort typically goes away. Lash eggs can occur in one or both eyes. Multiple lash eggs may develop over time if gland blockages keep recurring.

Differences Between a Lash Egg and a Stye

Lash eggs are sometimes confused with styes. Though both conditions involve eyelid bumps, there are some key differences:

Lash Egg Stye
– Caused by blocked oil gland – Caused by bacterial infection of eyelash follicle or oil gland
– Firm, painless lump – Tender red bump that may rupture
– Develops slowly over days or weeks – Comes on suddenly and grows quickly
– Usually not itchy or irritating – Often itchy and painful
– No discharge when massaged – Pus may drain when massaged
– Vision usually not affected – Can affect vision if large or in pupil area

While styes are infectious in nature, lash eggs are simply clogged oil glands with no pus or bacteria involved. Recurrent styes may sometimes lead to a lash egg forming from oil gland inflammation though.

Are Lash Eggs Serious?

In most cases, lash eggs are not a major cause for concern. They tend to be more of a nuisance than a serious medical issue. However, lash eggs can potentially lead to complications such as:

  • Infection – Rarely, bacteria may get into the blocked gland and infect the surrounding tissue.
  • Cyst damage – Attempting to pop or drain the cyst may rupture the gland and cause scar tissue.
  • Vision loss – If the lash egg grows very large, it can press on the eyeball and obstruct vision.
  • Recurring lash eggs – Some people are prone to developing numerous lash eggs over time.

Seeking treatment can prevent the above complications. Most ophthalmologists recommend having a lash egg removed once it reaches around 5mm in diameter or starts impacting eye health and appearance.

Lash Egg Treatment

Several treatment options exist for getting rid of lash eggs:

Warm Compresses

Applying a warm, damp washcloth to the affected eyelid for 10-15 minutes two to three times a day can help unblock the cyst and promote drainage. This home treatment works best for small, early-stage lash eggs. The heat softens the blockage, allowing the trapped oil to slowly drain out. Continued warm compresses after drainage help ensure the gland stays unobstructed.


If warm compresses alone aren’t effective, doctors may prescribe topical or oral medications to reduce inflammation and open the gland. Common options include antibiotic ointments, steroid eyedrops, and oral antibiotics for any infection present. Your ophthalmologist will determine the best medication approach based on the size and severity of the lash egg.

In-Office Drainage

For larger lash eggs causing bothersome symptoms, an ophthalmologist can perform an in-office drainage procedure. They will use a sterile needle to puncture the cyst and express out the contents. The area is then thoroughly cleaned. This quick in-office treatment drains the gland contents and immediately reduces swelling. However, the cyst may re-form if the underlying gland blockage isn’t resolved.

Eyelid Surgery

If the lash egg continues recurring despite other treatments, your doctor may recommend eyelid surgery as a last resort. There are two approaches:

  • Incision and curettage – The cyst is surgically cut open and scraped out. This removes the blockage and allows the gland to start functioning normally again.
  • Excision biopsy – The entire lash egg is surgically removed, including the affected meibomian gland. This prevents the cyst from recurring but reduces oil secretion in that area of the eyelid.

Both procedures are typically done under local anesthesia on an outpatient basis. Full recovery takes around 2-4 weeks. Surgery is generally only considered for very large or chronically recurring lash eggs that haven’t responded to more conservative treatments.

Can Lash Eggs Be Prevented?

Certain self-care habits can help reduce your risk of developing bothersome lash eggs:

  • Eye hygiene – Gently cleaning the eyelid margins daily with a damp, soft cloth can minimize oil and debris buildup.
  • Warm compresses – Applying a warm washcloth to the eyelids for 5-10 minutes twice a day helps keep meibomian glands flowing freely.
  • Avoid eye rubbing – Excessive eye rubbing can stimulate gland blockages.
  • Humidifiers – Keeping bedroom humidity between 40-50% prevents oil glands from drying out.
  • Supplements – Omega-3 and omega-6 supplements help optimize meibomian gland oil composition.
  • Allergy control – Managing indoor and outdoor allergies minimizes eyelid irritation.

Additionally, having recurring or chronic lash eggs evaluated by an ophthalmologist is important. Prescription eyelid hygiene products and medications are available that can help treat an underlying condition like meibomian gland dysfunction and prevent future cysts.


Lash eggs are benign eyelid cysts that occur when an oil gland along the lash line becomes blocked. Though harmless in most cases, they can cause annoying symptoms and affect vision if allowed to persist and grow. Applying warm compresses is the best initial treatment for small lash eggs. For larger cysts or ones that keep recurring, medications, in-office drainage procedures, and eyelid surgery may be necessary. With proper treatment and eyelid hygiene practices, bothersome lash eggs can be effectively managed.