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Blepharitis: What You Need to Know

Blepharitis is the chronic inflammation of the eyelids which can cause swelling, itching and irritation. Blepharitis is common in both children and adults. 

Blepharitis is very common, especially for people who have other facial skin issues like rosacea, dandruff or oily skin. While everyone has bacteria on the skin of their face, some have more bacteria at the base of their eyelashes which can cause flakes near the eyelashes that resemble dandruff. Blepharitis may also be caused by issues with oil glands in the eyelids. 

What Is Blepharitis?

Something about the makeup of the eyelid and how the tiny openings from which the glands secrete the oily part of tears are the area in which this occurs—this is the eyelid margin which is the area most often affected by blepharitis. 

There are two types of blepharitis: seborrheic and Staphylococcus (staph). Seborrheic blepharitis is characterized by redness of the eyelids and is associated with dandruff on the scalp. Possibly part of an overall skin disease, seborrheic blepharitis occurs when the glands of the eyelids produce an abnormal quantity of the tear film that coats, protects, and lubricates the eyelids. This form of blepharitis is indicated by red eyelids. Staph blepharitis is more severe in nature. It often begins in childhood and continues through adulthood. It is characterized by matted, hard crusts around the eyelashes, which when removed, may leave small bleeding or oozing ulcers. Broken or thinning lashes are also common with staph blepharitis. Left untreated, staph blepharitis can lead to infection or scarring of various parts of the eye.

What Are the Symptoms, Causes & Risk Factors of Blepharitis?

The symptoms of blepharitis include:

  • Red and/or watery eyes 
  • Eyelids with a greasy appearance
  • Red, swollen, itchy eyelids
  • Flaking of the skin around the eyelids (resembles dandruff)
  • Crusted eyelashes upon awakening
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Abnormal growth or loss of eyelashes

Complications of blepharitis include:

  • Eyelid skin issues
  • Excess tearing or dry eyes
  • Styes
  • Chalazion
  • Difficulty wearing contact lenses
  • Chronic pink eye
  • Injury to the cornea 

It is unclear what causes blepharitis. 

What Are the Medications and Treatments for Blepharitis?

There is no cure for blepharitis, however, there are several eye care approaches to help keep the symptoms of blepharitis under control. Most of these concern maintaining a very clean eyelid margin and is the most important aspect of treatment. These treatments should be done at home as part of an eye health and hygiene routine.

At-home treatments for blepharitis include eyelid scrubs which should be done every morning as maintenance therapy. Eyelid scrubs should be done 2 to 3 times per day when blepharitis is active. Additionally, you may be told to administer warm compresses to loosen the flakes that may be trapped around your eyelashes and can also help to keep the oil glands on your eyelashes from clogging. Your eye care professional may suggest a procedure done in the office using an electronic device that can help to unclog oil glands if necessary or desired. 

In addition to these self-administered treatments for blepharitis, there are a few medications that help with the symptoms of blepharitis. Antibiotics may be prescribed either orally or as a cream administered to the eyelid area. It may also be suggested that you use artificial tears or steroid eye drops to reduce the swelling and inflammation of the eyelid. Antibiotic eye drops may also be an option to help the functionality of the eyelid’s oil glands. 

How Tucker & Associates Can Help 

If you are experiencing inflamed, swollen or sore eyelids that are either getting worse or are affecting your quality of life, call Tucker & Associates. Our experienced eye care professionals will examine your eyelids to determine the best course of action and treatment for your irritation and future comfort. 

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