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Blepharitis: Symptoms and treatment

What is blepharitis?

Blepharitis is a common eye condition causing the rims of the eyelids to become red and swollen.

Blepharitis symptoms include a burning feeling, soreness or stinging in the eyes, a crusty substance on the eyelashes and itchy eyelids.

You do not catch blepharitis from someone else. Bacterial infection can cause blepharitis, but it can also be a complication of a skin conditions, including seborrhoeic dermatitis and rosacea.

What are the symptoms of blepharitis?

The symptoms of blepharitis include:

  • Feeling like something is in your eye
  • Burning sensation of the eye
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Red and swollen eyes or eyelids
  • Blurry vision
  • Dry eyes
  • Crusting of the eyelashes

How is blepharitis treated?

Blepharitis cannot be cured but it can be treated and controlled through correct eyelid hygiene. Left untreated, blepharitis can develop into a more serious condition such as scarring or injury to the eye's tissue. If you have blepharitis, follow the steps listed below to help treat and cleanse your eye.

  • Wet a clean flannel in very warm water. Wring the flannel and place it over the closed eyelids for five minutes. Wet the flannel again if necessary to maintain the desired temperature. This will help to soften crusts and loosen oily debris.
  • Place the warm wet flannel over your index finger and apply a diluted solution of 50% baby shampoo or mild soap.
  • Cleanse one eye at a time. Close the eye you are cleansing and rub the flannel or your finger over the eyelashes and lid edges several times using horizontal strokes.
  • Rinse thoroughly with a clean flannel that has been under the warm tap. Pat dry.

When eyelid hygiene is not enough to provide a solution, a doctor may recommend topical or oral antibiotics.

How do I prevent blepharitis?

There are many everyday steps that you can take to prevent blepharitis. These include:

  • Keeping your hands and face clean
  • Avoiding rubbing your eyes with dirty fingers, a soiled handkerchief etc
  • Removing all eye make-up before bedtime

If you are in the early stages of treating blepharitis, avoid using eye make-up to prevent further irritation. Once you begin using make-up again, replace any liquid products because your old products may be contaminated.

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WebMD Medical Reference

Medically Reviewed by Dr Rob Hicks on November 03, 2017

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