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What is blepharitis?
Blepharitis (say "bleh-fuh-RY-tus") is a skin problem that affects the eyelids and lashes. It may be caused by bacteria or by other skin conditions such as dandruff, skin allergies, or eczema.
If you have blepharitis, you're also more likely to get styes.
What are the symptoms?
If you have blepharitis:
- Your eyelids may be red, irritated, itchy, scaly, or crusty, mainly along the edges of the lids.
- Some of your eyelashes may fall out.
- Your eyes may feel dry or gritty.
In some cases, symptoms may be more severe.
How is blepharitis diagnosed?
The doctor will look at your eyes, eyelids, and eyelashes with a lighted tool.
How is it treated?
In many cases, regular washing of your eyelids, eyelashes, eyebrows, and hair can control blepharitis. To wash your eyelids:
- Put a few drops of baby shampoo in a cup of water, and dip a cotton ball, cotton swab, or washcloth in the liquid. With your eyes closed, gently wipe across each eyelid about 10 times. Make sure to wipe across the lashes too. Rinse well.
- Or, if you take a shower, let warm water run over your closed eyes for a minute. Then put a few drops of baby shampoo on a washcloth and use it to gently scrub the lids and lashes. Rinse the shampoo away.
You can also put a warm, wet washcloth over your eyes. If your eyes are dry, artificial tears may help.
You may need antibiotics to treat some types of blepharitis. For example, if you have eye pain or a lot of swelling and redness, you may need to see a doctor for treatment.
While your eyelids are healing, it may be a good idea to avoid wearing contact lenses or eye makeup.
Other Works Consulted
- American Academy of Ophthalmology Corneal/External Disease Panel (2011). Blepharitis: Limited revision. Preferred Practice Pattern Guidelines. Available online: http://one.aao.org/CE/PracticeGuidelines/PPP_Content.aspx?cid=500cd9ca-173c-4c31-b6ea-a258e3549474.
- American Optometric Association (2010). Care of the Patient With Ocular Surface Disorders. Optometric Clinical Practice Guideline. Available online: http://www.guideline.gov/content.aspx?id=33585.
- Lindsley K, et al. (2012). Interventions for chronic blepharitis. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews (5).
Current as of: August 31, 2020
Author: Healthwise Staff
Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine
Martin J. Gabica MD - Family Medicine
Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine
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