What is an Eyelid Pustule?

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  • Written By: Malcolm Tatum
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 31 January 2019
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Sometimes known as an eyelid pimple or eyelid rash, an eyelid pustule is a vesicle that develops inside the skin layers of the eyelid, or just below the layers in the area known as the dermis. This vesicle, which serves as a small pouch, fills with dead skin cells that gradually break down into pus. As the collection of pus grows, what appears as a pimple on the eyelid develops. While this type of pustule can be irritating if it increases to a certain size, it is usually benign and will gradually disappear as the dead cells are reabsorbed into the skin.

There are a number of health conditions that may lead to the development of an eyelid pustule. A skin condition such as rosacea is one example. Ailments like chickenpox may also lead to this collection of dead cells collecting into a pimple on the eyelid. There is some speculation that various types of makeup and face creams may cause this reaction in some people, although there is currently no universally accepted research that indicates the use of cosmetics is directly linked with pustules on the eyelids.


In appearance, an eyelid pustule is not very different from a type of pimple known as a whitehead. As the pus fills the vesicle, the upper layer of skin stretches and develops a white center. There is often some amount of redness around the base of this upraised area, a characteristic that is one reason why this condition is sometimes referred to as an eyelid rash. In time, the pustule may subside on its own as the pus is absorbed into the body. At other times, the center will rupture, allowing the pus to escape. When this occurs, care should be taken to wash the area thoroughly, minimizing the possibility of infection.

While a typical eyelid pustule does not require medical attention, there are situations in which the mass will continuing growing, collecting more dead cells that become pus. When this occurs, seeing a general practitioner or even a dermatologist is often recommended. A health care professional can assess the pustule, determining if there are any complications that may require additional treatment. If nothing unusual is found, the professional can gently lance the vesicle and allow the pus to drain. Once the drainage is complete, instructions on how to keep the area clean and prevent infection are usually provided.

Consulting a dermatologist is especially important if an individual tends to develop pustules on the eyelids on a fairly regular basis. The routine appearance of an eyelid pustule may be a sign of an underlying health issue that could be successfully treated before other signs or symptoms begin to emerge. Depending on the underlying cause of the pustule, the treatments may be short-term or involve ongoing care.


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Post 3

Is a pustule on the eyelid the same thing as a sty? I have been known to get a sty from time to time, but I am not sure whether the sty is more serious, less serious or just another name for an eyelid pustule.

Post 2

My husband had one of these on his eyelid. He put antibiotic ointment on it for several days, but it kept getting bigger. We couldn't afford a trip to the ER, and walk-in emergency clinics were not common then, so I just got my sharpest sewing needle, flamed it with a lighter, and then rubbed it with an alcohol swab. I also dabbed the pustule with the alcohol swab.

I lanced that sucker and it drained a fair amount of pus for something so small. I coated it again in ointment. It healed in about three days. I attribute that one to the hubs' extremely oily skin.

Post 1

I've had these before, but not since high school. I think it's probably a hormonal thing and once my hormones leveled out, they stopped appearing.

I don't know that there's that much difference between an eyelid pustule and a whitehead, per se. In direct opposition to the medical advice, naturally, I popped mine. I did use a sterilized needle, and treated the pimple with antibiotic ointment, but I know that's not what doctors recommend. But tell a 17-year-old anything.

I had pustules on my eyelids when I had the chicken pox. Lord knows I had them everywhere else. I remember them draining and crusting and my mom having to wash my eyes in the mornings because the drainage had crusted on my eyelashes overnight. Horrible. I'm so glad you can only get chicken pox once.

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