Aromatic Help for Chalazia

Jul 28, 03:24 PM

One day last month, I awoke with a bloodshot eye, swollen eyelid, diffuse eye pain and a large amount of oily, white pus oozing from both corners of the eye. Fearing an eye infection, I made an emergency dash to the opthamologist. He quickly allayed my fears, diagnosing a chalazion. "There's not much you can do about it except hot compresses," he said, "And most of the time it will resolve on its own in about a month."

That wasn't what I wanted to hear. I wear contact lenses, and my vision is poor enough that operating with only one lens isn't a good option, especially when driving at night. I didn't want to use the gooey antibiotic eye ointment my doctor prescribed, either, since no infection was present. By the time I returned home from the doctor's office, my eyelid was swollen to 3 times normal size, so I needed to do an aromatherapy intervention as rapidly as possible.

A chalazion forms when a miniscule gland (known as a Meibomian gland) on the inside of the eyelid becomes blocked. The eyelid has almost 100 Meibomian glands, and they secrete a mixture of sebum and mucus which provides lubrication for the eye. When the duct that drains one of those glands becomes clogged, a hard and painful cyst forms, putting presure on the cornea and creating a chalazion. If the chalazion becomes infected, it is known as a stye. Styes usually occur at the margin of the eyelid rather than underneath it.

There aren't too many aromatics than can be safely used near the eye, but I chose to use some German chamomile (Matricaria recutita) essential oil. It is both anti-inflammatory and analgesic, and for safety's sake, I wanted to make sure that it was quite dilute. I prepared a compress using 1 drop German chamomile in 4 tablespoons very warm water. I soaked a sterile cosmetic round in the mixture for several minutes, wrung it out, and applied it to the eyelid, covering with a warm sterile washcloth and hot gel pack. The compress was left on for 15 minutes, and this procedure was repeated 4 times daily for 2 days. By the end of the second day, the chalazion had completely dissolved, all pain and redness had disappeared, and I was able to reinsert a contact lens.

A few important points: 1 drop of essential oil per 4 tablespoons of water is a very high dilution. I did not experience any irritation or burning from the compress, and I made sure it was well wrung out before it was applied to the eyelid. Even so, some people may experience irritation from chamomile oil. In that case, a warmed and sterile German chamomile hydrolat can be substituted for the essential oil and water mixture, since it is even gentler than the dilute essential oil.

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