What Is Blepharitis?

This inflammation of the eyelids is the most common cause of dry eyes. It can result from:

  • An excess growth of bacteria that’s normally found on your skin
  • A blocked oil gland on your eyelid
  • A hormone imbalance
  • Allergies

What Are the Symptoms?

It makes your eyelids red, itchy, and a little swollen. The bases of your eyelashes may also look scaly. You might also notice:

How Is Blepharitis Treated?

There is no cure. But it can be treated and controlled. Just take care of your eyelids. If you don’t treat blepharitis, it could scar or injure your eye.

If you have blepharitis, take the steps listed below to help cleanse your eye:

  • Wet a clean washcloth in warm (not hot) water.
  • Wring it out and place it over your closed eyelids for 5 minutes.
  • Rewet as necessary to keep it warm. This will help soften crusts and loosen oily debris.

If your doctor advises:

  • Make a solution of half baby shampoo or mild soap, half water. Place the cloth over your index finger, dip it in the mix, and use it to clean your eyelid.
  • Wash one lid at a time. Close the eye you’re cleaning. Rub the washcloth over your eyelashes and the edge of your lids for about 30 seconds to loosen clogged oils. Apply light pressure to squeeze out clogged oils from the glands behind your lashes.
  • Rinse thoroughly with a clean, warm, wet washcloth. Pat dry.

If the blepharitis results from a problem with your oil glands, the doctor may suggest a testosterone cream to put on your eyelids. He may also suggest LipiFlow, a 12-minute procedure that gently heats clogged glands and applies mild pressure to “milk out” the oils.

Can I Prevent Blepharitis?

Yes. It’s easy.

  • Keep your eyelids clean.
  • Remove all eye makeup before bedtime.
  • Don’t use eyeliner on the back edges of your eyelids behind the lashes.
  • If you’re in the early stages of treating blepharitis, you can prevent further irritation by not using makeup.
  • Once you do start to use it again, replace products used in or near your eyelids. They may be contaminated.

WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by Brian S. Boxer Wachler, MD on January 20, 2016

Sources

SOURCES:

American Optometric Association: "Blepharitis."

National Eye Institute: "Blepharitis."

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