Blepharitis 

Introduction 

Blepharitis can cause the eyelashes to become crusty 

Eyelid problems

Causes of common eyelid problems, such as swollen eyelids, gritty, itchy or flaky eyelids, and droopy eyelids

Blepharitis is a condition where the edges of the eyelids become inflamed (red and swollen). 

It is a common condition, accounting for an estimated 1 in 20 eye problems reported to GPs. Blepharitis can develop at any age, but is more common in people over 40.

Signs of blepharitis can include:

  • itchy and sore eyelids
  • eyelids that stick together and are difficult to open, particularly when you wake up
  • eyelashes that become crusty or greasy

Read more about the symptoms of blepharitis.

When to see your GP

See your GP if you are unable to control the symptoms of blepharitis with simple cleaning measures alone (see below).

Your GP can usually diagnose blepharitis based on your symptoms and an examination of your eyes. They may refer you to an ophthalmologist (eye specialist) for further tests and treatment if you have severe symptoms, or initial treatment is unsuccessful.

What causes blepharitis?

Blepharitis can be caused by an infection with Staphylococcus bacteria, or as a complication of a skin condition, such as:

  • seborrhoeic dermatitis  a condition that causes the skin to become oily or flaky
  • rosacea  a condition that causes the face to appear red and blotchy

Blepharitis is not contagious. 

Read more about the causes of blepharitis.

How blepharitis is treated

Blepharitis is usually a long-term condition. Most people experience repeated episodes, separated by periods without symptoms.

Blepharitis cannot usually be cured, but a daily eyelid-cleaning routine that involves applying a warm compress  gently massaging your eyelids and wiping away any crusts  can help control the symptoms. 

More severe cases may require antibiotics that are either applied to the eye or eyelid directly, or taken as tablets.

Read more about treating blepharitis.

Complications

Blepharitis is not usually serious, although it can lead to a number of further problems.

For example, many people with blepharitis also develop dry eye syndrome (a condition where the eyes do not produce enough tears or dry out too quickly), which can cause your eyes to feel dry, gritty and sore.

Serious, sight-threatening problems are rare, particularly if any complications that develop are identified and treated quickly.

Read about the complications of blepharitis.

Page last reviewed: 22/04/2014

Next review due: 22/04/2016

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Comments

The 9 comments posted are personal views. Any information they give has not been checked and may not be accurate.

Chezza95 said on 26 March 2014

Hileena111 Reading your symptons was mirror image of mine. I was diagnosed with Blepharitis about 4 years ago and had never heard of it before. Mine has been on and off, with some many weeks free in between, but this last bout has been with me since Christmas and I am becoming disheartened. To me my eyes are my main face feature and I feel ugly. My lids are now starting to stay down on the outer side of the eyes (not near the nose) and the skin there is so thin and painful to touch but so itchy. My evening and morning regime is to bathe with a mild solution of Johnsons baby shampoo and very warm water. Also I have an eye mask which I heat in the microwave and lie with this on for 10 mins, but this is not always possible. I work in a professional environment and would not feel dressed without make up on and I think it would be wonderful if an eye make up remover for Blepharitis sufferers was on the market.
I am actually visiting my GP tomorrow so I shall report back in with yet another opinion. In my simple terms I would say the meaning of Belpharitis is a form of dandruff on the eyes.

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Hileena111 said on 22 March 2014

Hi, I've been suffering for 3 years now. The first visit to a consultant at the hospital.....I was diagnosed with Blepharaitis and Dry Eyes. He gave me a nose spray?? On my next apt I said it hadn't helped but he prescribed it again.....after a few more visits with similar results I asked my GP for a 2nd opinion....sent me to another hospital. On googling him I discovered he was from the original hospital and had the occasional clinic here!!!!
He has given me antibiotics .....
The original symptoms were constant streaming {tears all the time} but now my eyes are crusty, one of them wont open properly in the morning, stinging, sore, very inflamed and itchy and still excessive tears.....I haven't got a diagnosis for this.....Just "blepharitis but there is more going on there"!!! Not a lot of help. I do the hygiene, I use over the counter drops {have tried a few} but now am getting very fed up and depressed especially when people stop me because they think I'm crying.
Any help or advice would be appreciated.....if I could get a def. diagnosis I could cope much better but over 3 years I seem to have got nowhere.
Thanks anyone who reads this.

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lady marg said on 13 November 2013

I suffered (not knowing what it was) from blepharitis for about 18 months. I used eye drops and eye washes from the chemists. I then asked the chemist to have a look at my eyes. He suggested a coarse of antibiotics which I had. This did not solve the problem. I then had a different type of antibiotics from a different chemist. This did not help. I then went to my doctor, who sent me away saying to bathe my eyes night and morning in warm water. This was no good.

Then meeting a friend who had been suffering from blepharitis, and taking her advise to try the treatment that she had used. Hey presto, I now have cracked it. The Treatment is: Use lid-care sterile wipes. I used these night and morning. After six weeks I could cut it down to once a day. Then, another few weeks down to twice a week. now only when I feel the symptoms returning.
I buy my lid-care from Tesco Pharmacy, but I'm sure all chemists will stock it.
Hope this helps other sufferers.

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Rapc said on 19 June 2013

I was told a year ago I had blaphartis and have suffered rather badly but it only affected my left eye so I thought I would try a hayfevrr tablet citrizine and my eye seems to be a lot better. Can doctors get bllpharitus and hayfever get mixed up

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User752355 said on 28 February 2013

I wear contact lenses extensively and I had recently been experiencing dry red eyes, they we're not painful, they just did not look very attractice. I tried to remedy the problem myself with various eye drops from the pharmacy and supermarket with no success.

After speaking with 3 different opticians and 2 doctors I was told a range of remedies from baby shampoo, hot flannels and eye massages, clinitas drops. All were fiddly and time consuming.

Until I was recommended by the last optician to buy Blephasol! it also is an excellent make up remover. I now only wear my lenses for events/parties its very manageable now thanks to blephasol! I have also just ordered a MGDRx Eye Bag online as this is also has been recommended to unblock your tear ducts! i will update with my findings!

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Chibitammy6 said on 15 February 2013

Having suffered from a dry scalp since childhood I decided that you can't have a symptom without a cause so I eliminated all products that contain yeast from my diet. After roughly 2 weeks of this my scalp was almost completely clear & the itching had stopped. It was also really important to make sure not to scratch as this can introduce bacteria to an already sore area & cause further issues.

Since I became pregnant, my appetite has gone through the roof & I've had to resort to eating bread in the day or else I get queasy!

I have now got my scalp issue back full throttle, coupled with sore, red, itchy & flaky eyelids. I did have a minor episode of this last time I had bread, which went away when I stopped eating it again.

I just wanted to encourage you all & say that perhaps limiting something like yeast from your diet will mean you don't have to develop complex skincare routines that cost money & take time. From experience, I'd say it's definitely worth it.

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LondonLife said on 10 November 2012

I have been suffering with severe blepharitis and found the warm wet presses and eye drops weren’t quite enough. Luckily the article above points out that an itchy scalp and dermatitis can also play a role; so I have been treating this too. Using an antidandruff shampoo (one for itchy scalps) and by rinsing my eyes out with contact lens solution (in order to decrease the bacteria in my eyes) has helped get things under control. I now regularly use contact lens solution morning and night to help kill the bacteria and use a standard anti dandruff shampoo. I used to be a contact lens wearer and so am used to using all in one solutions for soft lenses. These solutions are excellent for killing bacteria and fungi and are the correct pH for eyes.

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LondonLife said on 10 November 2012

I have been suffering with severe blepharitis and found the warm wet presses and eye drops weren’t quite enough. Luckily the article above points out that an itchy scalp and dermatitis can also play a role; so I have been treating this too. Using an antidandruff shampoo (one for itchy scalps) and by rinsing my eyes out with contact lens solution (in order to decrease the bacteria in my eyes) has helped get things under control. I now regularly use contact lens solution morning and night to help kill the bacteria and use a standard anti dandruff shampoo. I used to be a contact lens wearer and so am used to using all in one solutions for soft lenses. These solutions are excellent for killing bacteria and fungi and are the correct pH for eyes.

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alriyan said on 05 April 2012

A useful article. Have had dry eye for a few years and doctor has recently diagnosed as (mild) blepharitis a condition I have been experiencing for some months. Watery eyes, inflammed eyelids, itchy gritty eyes. He advised continued use of Viscotears and prescribed Lactilube. He also advised bathing my eyes four times a day with tepid boiled water and baby soap. Happy to say this treatment has quickly brought about a marked improvement.

Thank you, Doctor

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