A white pimple on the eyelid can stay rather small and barely noticeable or it can grow, swell and become painful. A pimple-like growth may be a result of using expired cosmetics or improperly cleaned contact lenses. While the growth is generally not a serious medical matter, unless it starts to inhibit your vision, it can be painful and unsightly.
A white bump on the eyelid, which often looks like a pimple, is often either a chalazion or a hordeolum, the latter also known as a sty, according to Mayo Clinic. The bump is white where it is filled with pus, but it can also be red or surrounded by a red and sometimes swollen area. Watery eyes and pain are other symptoms that often accompany a chalazion or sty.
Sties have several causes, including poor hygiene or a related condition known as blepharitis. Poor hygiene, especially rubbing your eyes with dirty hands, often exposes the eyelid to bacteria. The bacteria then infect the eyelid's oil glands and cause a bump. Staphylococcus is a common bacterium that leads to a sty, although any type of bacteria is fair game, according to Family Doctor.
If you suffer from constant sties and swollen eyes, you could be suffering from blepharitis, according to Mayo Clinic. This chronic condition results in inflamed eyelids, usually near the eyelashes. Malfunctioning oil glands at the base of the lashes is the cause of blepharitis, and sties are a common side effect.
Similar in appearance to a sty, a chalazion is another pimple-like bump that crops up on the eyelid, according to the American Optometric Association. A blocked or swollen oil gland on the lid causes a chalazion, but an infected oil gland causes a sty. A chalazion often starts out as a painful bump but, as it continues to grow, it no longer hurts. A chalazion also tends to grow larger than a sty, sometimes reaching the size of a pea.
Both sties and chalazia tend to go away on their own, the American Optometric Association reports, with sties usually lasting about a week and chalazia lasting up to a month. To speed up the healing process, hold a warm, damp washcloth on your eyelid for at least five minutes up to four times a day. Also refrain from rubbing, touching or applying makeup to the affected area, and keep the entire eye area clean. Never pop the pimple, as that only invites more infection. If your sty or chalazia worsens or does not go away after a few weeks, a trip to the eye doctor is in order.