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What do white bumps on eyelid mean?

I have little white bumps on the rim of my eyelid. It's only one eye. What could this be? I can't really tell if it's getting worse, but anything going wrong with my eyes makes me nervous. Is there a safe way to treat them? Are they some kind of whitehead?
Questions about the eye or changes in vision are best answered by an ophthalmologist. Depending on the circumstances, a dermatologist may also be able to help evaluate the skin near the eyes. There are several different things that can cause 'bumps' on or near the eyelids. First, there are tiny oil glands within the skin of the eyelid that help provide lubrication to the eye. Bacteria from the skin can infect these oil glands similar to acne pimples on other parts of the face or body. On the eyelid, this kind of bump is called a stye. Styes are usually reddish and may be painful. Whitish, painless bumps on the eyelids can also be caused by small collections of a protein under the skin. These cysts are called milia and can often be found on newborn babies, in addition to areas around the eyes, nose, and mouth in adults. Milia are not harmful and are not whiteheads even though they are often confused as such. Milia may often go away on their own, but when they do not or become cosmetically aggravating, a dermatologist or eye doctor may be able to remove the material inside the cyst or prescribe a topical treatment to help make the cyst go away. Small collections of cholesterol under the skin can caused yellowish, painless bumps near the eyelids. Tiny, benign growths called papillomas can also occur near the eyes. Papillomas are usually the same color as the skin. Overall, any changes related to vision or the eyes should be evaluated by a physician.
This answer is for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice.
If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor or (in the United States) 911 immediately. Always seek the advice of your doctor before starting or changing treatment. Medical professionals who provide responses to health-related questions are intended third party beneficiaries with certain rights under ZocDoc’s Terms of Service.
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