The skin of the eyelids is a common site for benign and malignant growths.
Xanthelasma is a common, benign deposit of yellow-white flat plaques of lipid material that occur subcutaneously on the upper and lower eyelids. Although some people with xanthelasmas have dyslipidemias, most do not. Diagnosis is by appearance. No treatment is necessary, although xanthelasmas can be removed for cosmetic reasons, and underlying dyslipidemias should be treated.
Basal cell carcinoma:
This skin cancer frequently occurs at the eyelid margins, at the inner canthus, and on the upper cheek (see also Cancers of the Skin: Basal Cell Carcinoma). Metastasis is rare. Biopsy establishes the diagnosis. Treatment is surgical excision using conventional techniques or by Mohs surgery.
Other malignant growths:
These types of growths are less common; they include squamous cell carcinoma, meibomian gland carcinoma, and melanomas. Eyelid growths may simulate chronic blepharitis or chronic chalazion. Therefore, chronic blepharitis, chronic chalazion, or similar lesions should be biopsied if unresponsive to initial treatment.
Last full review/revision August 2012 by James Garrity, MD
Content last modified November 2012