Ask an Eye M.D. Answer Archive
I have what looks like a whitehead on the lower rim of my eye and a red scaly bump on the upper lid. Neither hurts, neither looks like a stye or pimple. I would like them removed. Would you go to a dermatologist, an ophthalmologist, or a plastic surgeon?
A whitehead on the "lower rim of [the] eye" usually is a clogged meibomian gland with hardened oil at the opening of the gland. The oily secretions from the meibomian glands are an important component of your tear film. These glands empty just behind the eyelashes and can look like a whitehead if the oil hardens and protrudes from the gland opening. The red, scaly bump you are describing is probably a chalazion. This is a foreign body reaction to trapped meibomian gland secretions that have solidified inside of the gland.
Both of the lesions you describe often occur simultaneously if the meibomian glands are not flowing easily—a process called meibomian gland inspissation. Usually, a course of antibiotics, warm compresses, and gentle massage can relieve these symptoms without surgery. I'd recommend a visit to an ophthalmologist for evaluation. And even if these lesions do not improve with conservative therapy, an ophthalmologist is particularly well suited to assist with surgical excision.
Answered by: James M. Heltzer, MD
Have a question that hasn't been answered yet? Ask it!
Search for Questions & Answers
Meet Our Experts
- Your questions are answered by more than two dozen members of the American Academy of Ophthalmology who volunteer their time with EyeSmart.