The eyelid, as the skin surrounding the eye, is used both for protection by eyelashes and for moistening the eye by the glands located there. Often, pain in the eyelid is due to inflammation. On the one hand, the sebum glands can be affected if they clog, but bacterial infections of the eyelid can also be the cause.
The most common causes of eyelid pain are listed below:
- Inflammation of the eyelid called blepharitis
- Inflammation of the lacrimal gland
Upper eyelid pain can occur for a number of reasons. A common cause is inflammation of the eyelids called blepharitis. The classic signs of inflammation redness, swelling, overheating and pain occur. An impaired flow of sebum due to a blockage causes the sebum glands to swell, which can eventually develop into a bacterial infection. The swelling can become relatively large and lead to a foreign body sensation in the eye. Blepharitis usually occurs over a large area of the entire eyelid and can also lead to a scale-like change on the outer edge with pain in the corner of the eye. It is then called Squamous blepharitis designated. The inflammation can also pass into deeper layers of the skin, so that it can also spread to the inside of the eye if it is severe. However, blepharitis can be treated very well with good hygiene and eye ointment containing antibiotics. If a sebum gland is simply blocked without the involvement of bacteria, it is called a hailstone.
Read more on the topic: Eyelid inflammation
The stye is also called the hordeolum. It is an acute inflammation of the eyelid gland, often caused by staphylococci and streptococci. A strong reddish swelling of the eyelid is typical of this inflammation. Both the internal and external glands can be affected. The inner eyelid glands are the meibomian glands. In addition, there is an unpleasant itching. Both occur in the early stages of the barley grain being formed. A characteristic pus pimple develops within the next 24 hours. This pus is the size of a pin and very easy to recognize by its whitish cap. The stye breaks open within four to six days and the swelling and redness are significantly reduced. The symptoms are usually limited to the affected eye, but cases are known in which a general feeling of illness with fever and malaise can occur. This particularly affects people with weakened immune systems.
Read more on the topic: Treat stye
The hailstone is used in medical terminology as well Chalazion called. Similar to a stye, secretion builds up in the sebum glands, but in most cases the inflammation is not caused by bacteria. Hailstones can be found in the Meibomian and Zeis glands. Characteristically, a tight knot forms, which can eventually develop into chronic inflammation. A hailstone usually does not hurt too much, but it also leads to redness and swelling. The resulting lumps will recede on their own, but this can often take several weeks. Hailstones are harmless; they rarely cause conjunctivitis. Since a hailstone is sometimes difficult to distinguish from a stye, the diagnosis can also be made by a doctor, who then also makes the decision about the treatment.
Read more on the topic: Hailstone
Inflammation of the lacrimal gland
Inflammation of the lacrimal gland is also a cause of eyelid pain. The pain is usually one-sided on the outer edge of the upper eyelid. Pain is especially common with pressure. The cause of the inflammation of the lacrimal gland are mostly viral infections such as mumps and glandular fever.
Cold or flu as the cause?
Sore eyelids are not necessarily typical of a common cold or flu, but they can happen. In particular, the lack of sleep often leads to eyelid swelling, which can also be painful. Pain in the eyeballs themselves can be permanent or only when the eye muscles are moved. If the pain is in the eye socket, it can also be perceived and misinterpreted as eyelid pain.
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Pain is one of the classic signs of inflammation that rarely comes alone. Therefore, pain when infected with germs is often accompanied by swelling, reddening, overheating and even impairment of the eyelid. Such symptoms would be typical for a hailstone (chalazion), a stye (hordeolum) or other infections.
It is also conceivable that not only the eyelid, but also the eyes themselves or the area behind the eyes soon begin to hurt. Watery or sticky eyes can also be accompanied by sore lids. It often happens that crusts form, which are often whitish or yellow in color.
If one eyelid begins to droop (ptosis), an ophthalmologist or family doctor should definitely be consulted.
Depending on the cause, there are many different accompanying symptoms that can occur.
Pain when blinking
The blinking or blinking is a reflex that goes unnoticed and involuntarily.The tear fluid from the lacrimal gland is distributed throughout the eye by means of the eyelid closing reflex, thus protecting the eye from dirt and drying out. Pain when blinking often occurs with acute inflammation, which on the one hand can make eyelid closure uncomfortable and prevent it. The foreign body sensation of an inflammation can increase the eyelid closing reflex, so that the eye is reflexively closed more often. This usually returns to normal when the inflammation subsides. Dry eyes can also be a cause of painful blinking.
Find out more about this: Dry eyes - what are the causes? such as What can you do with dry eyes?
In connection with headaches, especially cluster headaches, drooping eyelids, swelling, or eye pain can occur. A painful eyelid is of course also possible in this context, but not particularly common.
Basically, cluster headaches can be recognized by the fact that they last from minutes to a few hours, relatively short compared to other types of headache, but usually occur more frequently in sequence over time. After an episode is over, there is then a phase without a headache. In this phase, the pain in the eyelid and other accompanying symptoms should subside. If this is not the case, ophthalmologists or neurologists, if necessary also the family doctor, can be visited.
Read more at: Cluster headache or headache therapy
A twitching eyelid can not only be irritating to those affected, it can even become painful. Most of the time, there is a harmless cause behind these so-called benign fasciculations, such as too much caffeine, stress or working too long on the PC. It can help to consume magnesium or calcium to combat the muscle twitching in the eyelid. If the twitching occurs more frequently or persists, the family doctor should be consulted to check for a thyroid or nervous disorder, among other things. Increased alcohol consumption can also cause eyelids to twitch.
However, if blepharospasm occurs, i.e. an involuntary, spasmodic squinting of both eyes, an ophthalmologist should definitely be consulted.
Also read: Eyelid twitching or these are the causes of eyelid twitching
Pain in the eyelashes
The eyelashes protect the eye by preventing dust particles or foreign bodies from entering. There are various sebum glands in the skin between the eyelashes. If these become inflamed, there may also be pain on the lid in the area of the eyelashes. Eyelashes often provide information about existing diseases. For example, if you have an inflammation of the eyelid, the Blepharitis, glue. This bonding of the eyelashes often occurs after sleeping in the morning. Between the eyelashes there are then yellowish hardened crusts, which can often be a sign of an existing or beginning inflammation. However, sticky eyelashes can also indicate conjunctivitis. This often leads to increased secretion of a secretion which can give a watery, purulent or slimy consistency.
Read more on this topic: Treatment of conjunctivitis
Itching of the eyelid
There are several causes of itching and pain in the eyelid. As a rule, however, it is an inflammation of the eyelid margin (blepharitis). Especially with dry and irritated eyes, reddened or swollen eyelids can occur. A foreign body sensation and sticky eyelashes are particularly unpleasant.
Even with a hordeolum (stye), the eyelids may itch or burn in the area of the inflammation. However, it is also possible that a skin disease such as eczema such as occurs in the context of neurodermatitis, rosacea or an allergy to mites or pollen, for example, is the cause of the symptoms.
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Pain and swelling of the eyelid
If there is swelling on the body, this is usually a sign of inflammation. The blood circulation is increased in the affected body region so that immune cells can better find their way to the place of use. This creates a swelling, which is accompanied by redness and warmth due to the improved blood circulation.
Due to its thin nature, you notice swelling of the eyelid much faster than in most other places. It is also possible that the swelling itself triggers the pain without prevalent inflammation, as the large amount of fluid in the tissue can create a feeling of tension or pressure on other structures in the eye. The cause of this is often eyelid edema, i.e. an accumulation of fluid in the eyelid. This can result from allergic reactions such as hay fever, but also from kidney failure, Chagas disease and many others.
Also read: Eyelid swelling
Therapy for a stye
The stye should never be scratched or squeezed, despite the unpleasant itching. The contaminated fingers can not only carry the germs into the inside of the eye and lead to further inflammatory reactions there, but the bacteria can also be transferred to the other eye. This spread to the conjunctiva or even the eyeball can lead to orbital phlegmon, which can have serious consequences, since the inflammation is certainly closer to the optic nerve. By observing hygiene and not manipulating the pus, transmission to other people is also prevented. Pain-relieving eye ointments and eye ointments containing antibiotics can relieve symptoms and prevent further complications.
Therapy for hailstones
Hailstones are treated with anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving eye ointments or eye drops containing antibiotics, which are often available in pharmacies without a prescription. If this treatment is not sufficient or if the hailstone does not resolve on its own after several weeks, an ophthalmologist should be consulted again. It may be necessary to open the knot through a small incision. This can be done under local anesthesia, usually with eye drops. The doctor can then remove the blocked and inflamed glandular tissue. Then the swelling and inflammation should decrease very quickly.
Home remedies for eyelid pain
Pain in the eyelids is often caused by inflammation, with swelling and redness. Since this is a very simple diagnosis, those affected often resort to their own medicine cabinet. Compressions with cooled chamomile tea bags have a good anti-inflammatory effect. They cool the inflamed area of skin and they are said to have an anti-inflammatory effect. The application of cotton wool pads soaked in chamomile tea can be repeated several times a day and relieve the swelling and itching. Another possibility is a warming treatment with red light. It is said to be particularly good at helping a sebum gland build up by promoting the outflow of sebum and the sebum glands are free again. Here, too, the treatment can be carried out in the morning and in the evening. From the field of herbal medicine, a treatment with the extracts of the medicinal plant eyebright (Euphrasia) proven. It contains, among other things, essential oils that are supposed to promote the healing of inflammation. Classic compresses with quark also have a cooling and anti-itch effect. The quark can also be applied to the affected eyelid with a thin layer on a cotton pad. If the remedies do not improve the symptoms, it is advisable to consult a doctor.
Duration of eyelid pain
As is so often the case, the underlying cause and timely treatment determine the duration of the symptoms. Basically, one can say that an inflammation of the glands on the eyelid in the context of a stye (hordeolum) or hailstone (chalazion) should have subsided within a few days to weeks.
However, it is also possible that the use of pain relievers or cooling results in a significant improvement within hours. In any case, it is important to only touch the eyelid with washed hands so as not to introduce germs that could worsen the symptoms. Excessive rubbing of the eye should also be avoided in order to keep the healing time as short as possible.