Blepharitis - Treatment 

Treating blepharitis 

Blepharitis cannot be cured, but symptoms can be controlled with good eye hygiene.

Blepharitis is a chronic (long-term) condition. Most people experience repeated episodes followed by periods with no symptoms.

Eye hygiene

It is important to clean your eyelids every day, whether or not you have any symptoms.

Good eye hygiene helps ease your symptoms and prevents them from reoccurring. Follow the steps below to keep your eyes clean:

  • Apply a warm compress (a cloth or cotton wool warmed with hot water) to your closed eyelids for five to ten minutes.
  • Gently rub the compress over your closed eyelids for two to three minutes, then repeat. This will help loosen any crusting.
  • Use a cloth or cotton bud with warm water and a small amount of cleaning solution (see below), and gently rub the edge of your eyelids to clean them.
  • Carry out these steps twice a day at first, then once a day when your symptoms have improved.
  • Do not wear eye make-up, particularly eyeliner and mascara, as this can make your symptoms worse. If you have to wear eyeliner, make sure that it washes off easily.

Cleaning solution

There are many recipes for cleaning solutions and the best proportions or products to use may vary between individuals.

For example, boil a pint of water in a kettle, pour it in an eggcup and allow it to cool. Add either:

  • a drop of baby shampoo
  • a drop of tea tree shampoo
  • half a teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda

You could also use a commercial lid-cleaning solution (there are a number of products available).

Your GP or pharmacist can tell you which cleaning solutions are suitable for you. However, you may need to try more than one product to find one that suits you.

Topical antibiotics

If you have blepharitis that does not respond to regular cleaning, you may be prescribed a course of antibiotic ointments or creams (topical antibiotics). You will need to use these for four to six weeks.

You may be prescribed:

  • chloramphenicol eye ointment
  • fusidic acid eye drops

The ointment or drops should be rubbed gently onto the edge of your eyelids, up to three times a day, using either clean fingers or a cotton bud. Once your condition begins to respond to the treatment, you will only need to apply the antibiotic once a day.


Avoid wearing contact lenses when using topical antibiotics. Let your GP know if wearing contact lenses is essential, you may be given additional eye drops. If you are using more than one type of eye drop, leave at least five minutes before applying the second type of drops to your eyes.

You may experience some mild stinging or burning when applying antibiotic ointment or drops to your eyes, but this should pass quickly. Do not drive if the ointment blurs your vision.

Oral antibiotics

In some circumstances, you may be prescribed oral antibiotics (to take by mouth) at the start of your treatment. For example, oral antibiotics may be prescribed when it is clear that a skin condition, such as rosacea, is aggravating your blepharitis. Oral antibiotics may also be recommended if your blepharitis does not respond to other treatment.

Most people respond well after two to four weeks of treatment, although you will probably be required to take them for at least six weeks. It is important for you to finish the course of antibiotics, even if your symptoms get better.


Some oral antibiotics used to treat blepharitis have been known to make people more sensitive to the effects of the sun. Therefore, avoid prolonged exposure to sunlight and using sun lamps or sun beds while you are taking them.

Side effects of oral antibiotics are rare because the dose is relatively low. However, they may include vomiting, diarrhoea and yeast infections in women  

Treating other conditions

You may need to use an anti-dandruff shampoo on your scalp and eyebrows if you have:

  • seborrhoeic dermatitis (a skin condition that causes your skin to become inflamed or flaky)
  • dandruff (dry, flaky skin on your scalp)

If you have dry eye syndrome, which frequently occurs alongside blepharitis, you may need separate treatment for this, such as eye drops.

Page last reviewed: 17/05/2012

Next review due: 17/05/2014


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The 5 comments posted are personal views. Any information they give has not been checked and may not be accurate.

looseses said on 27 October 2013

I have had Blepharitis for years and have tried many
treatments with out any success I just use a little warm salt water now.

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Plum Jam said on 02 July 2013

Yes, I don't use baby shampoo as it contains sodium laureth sulfate and parfum. Also, I am allergic to the cotton wool buds I was recommended. I wasn't given much help with anything by the eye specialist.

I've found that reasonably hot water in a clean washbasin with a few drops of tea tree oil helps to keep it under control. I clean my eye lids with clean scrubbed finger tips, a different one for each eye.

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Trifern said on 07 April 2013

I have only recently been diagnosed with Blepharitis and
found that I had a very painful eye after bathing with hot
water. The Doctor didn't comment when I mentioned it.
Would Optrex be any better ?

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OkayBee said on 07 February 2013

I have heard of honey having slight antibacterial properties, but its not a good idea to put tap water in your eyes without first boiling it and letting it cool. Baby shampoo, rather than baby lotion, should be fine for use around the eyes as its formulated not to sting.

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mr cronos said on 10 November 2011

All you need to clear up any eye infections/crusty eyes is Manuka honey (number 15) a heaped teaspoon of it can be stirred into half a teacup of lukewarm water and dropped into you eye with an eye dropper.

Please, please, please do not rub baby lotion (as advised by my GP) onto your eye lids as it contains Sodium laureth sulfate (a chemical irritant, it's the chemical that scientists use on lab animals to create artificial skin irritation)

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