Blepharitis: Treatment, symptoms, pictures, and causes

Blepharitis is an eye condition that affects the eyelids. It can produce clumping and stickiness around the eyelashes.

It is caused by inflammation around the base of the eyelashes. There is a range of treatments that can reduce symptoms, including home remedies.

In this article, we will explain what causes blepharitis, how it is treated, and how it can be prevented.

Blepharitis can affect anyone of any age and is classified as either acute or chronic; chronic adult blepharitis is the most common form. For most purposes, blepharitis means a chronic form of eyelid inflammation.

Fast facts on blepharitis

Here are some key points about blepharitis. More detail and supporting information is in the body of this article.

Blepharitis is an inflammatory condition affecting the area around the base of the eyelashes.

The underlying causes of chronic blepharitis are not well understood.

Blepharitis is not caused by poor hygiene.

The most obvious signs of blepharitis are redness and stickiness of the eyelid, with clumping of scaly skin around the base of the eyelashes.

Treatment aims to relieve symptoms, but cannot cure the condition.

Treatment

Artificial tears may help
Artificial tears may help relieve symptoms.

Treatment for blepharitis normally includes medical and home treatment.

A doctor will recommend home treatment, as described below, but they can also carry out the following treatments:

Electrochemical lid margin debridement (BlephEx): This removes any mites, bacteria, and the biofilm that they create from the eyelids. It also opens any clogged Meibomian glands.

Thermal pulsation treatment (Lipiflow): This melts any material that is obstructing the Meibomian glands.

Intense pulse light therapy (IPL): This opens clogged eyelid glands.

Sometimes, severe cases of blepharitis may require antibiotics, either topical or oral.

Blepharitis. Image credit: DermNet New Zealand
Blepharitis close up.
Image credit: DermNet New Zealand

It can cause irritation

Blepharitis. Indian Journal of Ophthalmology via openi.nlm.nih.gov

Image credit: Indian Journal of Ophthalmology via openi.nlm.nih.gov

Tiny particles, like dandruff, may collect on the lashes

sticky eyes

The eyes can become red

The eyes can become red and irritated.

They may be sore and itchy

The eyes can become sore and itchy.

Complications include styes

Complications include styes.
Complications include styes.

Causes

There are a number of possible causes of blepharitis.

They include:

an inflammatory reaction to bacteria that normally live on eyelids

seborrhoeic dermatitis or rosacea

parasites: Demodex eyelash mites

infection with the herpes simplex virus (HSV)

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