What Is It?
Blepharitis is an inflammation of the eyelids that involves the edges of the eyelids and eyelash hair follicles. Blepharitis is a common and sometimes long-lasting condition that most frequently affects adults but also can occur in children. People with skin conditions such as rosacea, seborrhea, oily skin, dandruff or dry eyes are more likely to get this condition. Bacterial infections or excessive oil production by the eyelid glands can contribute to blepharitis. This condition is not contagious.
The symptoms of blepharitis can include any or all of the following:
- Mucus at the corner of the eyes when you wake up
- Upper and lower eyelids that appear greasy
- A crust that clings to the lashes
- A sensation that something is in your eye when you blink
- Red and swollen eyes
- Missing lashes or lashes that turn inward
- Irritation or breakdown of the skin along the edges of the eyelids
- Excessive tearing
Your doctor can diagnose blepharitis based on your symptoms and a physical examination.
Blepharitis is a chronic (long-lasting) condition and is difficult to cure permanently. In most cases, however, the right treatment reduces the symptoms and controls the condition. In addition, symptoms can change over time and disappear for extended periods — months or years — before returning.
Good eyelid-hygiene practices can help prevent blepharitis and, in most cases, can control it if you have the condition.
The key treatment for blepharitis is good eyelid hygiene. The following cleansing regimen is recommended twice daily, in the morning and the evening. Once the condition is under control, cleansing may be performed less often. However, you should resume twice-daily cleansing if the symptoms recur. To cleanse:
- Loosen crusts and oil debris by placing a clean washcloth dampened with warm water over closed lids for five minutes.
- Create a cleansing solution by mixing three drops of baby shampoo with two or three ounces of warm water.
- Moisten a washcloth or cotton swab with the cleansing solution and rub the base of the eyelashes to remove loosened skin and crusts.
- Rinse the lids with warm water and pat gently with a clean, dry towel.
If the condition does not improve with cleansing alone, your doctor may prescribe antibiotic pills or ointment, or steroid eye drops.
When To Call A Professional
Call your doctor if you develop:
- Irritated eyelids or skin around the eyes
- Red, irritated eyes
- Frequent crusting around the lids
- A sensation that something is in the eye
- Ongoing symptoms despite appropriate treatment
Most cases of blepharitis improve promptly once the appropriate treatment is started. Often treatment must be continued for a long time or repeated intermittently. Although unsightly, blepharitis does not cause permanent damage to sight.
Diseases and Conditions Center
All ArmMed Media material is provided for information only and is neither advice nor a substitute for proper medical care. Consult a qualified healthcare professional who understands your particular history for individual concerns.