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What is Blepharitis? Symptoms, causes, + treatment

Blepharitis is a common skin condition that makes your eyelids red, irritated, itchy, and swollen. Also known as eyelid inflammation, it is usually treated with home remedies. However, in more stubborn cases, prescription medication may be needed.

We'll look over the common symptoms, causes, and treatment of blepharitis. You'll also learn about home remedies, over-the-counter (OTC) treatments, and prescription medications that treat chronic eyelid inflammation.

Blepharitis Symptoms

Common symptoms of blepharitis include:

  • Burning, stinging, or watery eyes

  • Dandruff-like flakes on eyelids and eyelashes

  • Dry eyes

  • Eyelid swelling or thickening

  • Feeling like there is something in your eye

  • Red, irritated eyelids

  • Tears that are foamy or have bubbles in them

  • Waking up with crusty eyelids or eyelashes

In some cases, symptoms may clear up only to return a few weeks later. This is known as chronic blepharitis and can be difficult to treat.


Types of Blepharitis

Anterior Lid Margin Disease (ALMD): Crusting at the base of the eyelashes as a result of a superficial infection by any of a number of micro-organisms

Posterior Lid Margin Disease (PLMD): Due to the production of an irregular, thick, oily, and unstable tear film by dysfunctional glands within the eyelids

Mixed Blepharitis: A combination of ALMD and PLMD


What Causes Blepharitis

Blepharitis can be caused by an infection, parasite, or skin condition.


A bacterial infection can cause blepharitis. It is normal to have some bacteria on the skin at all times. However, too much bacteria can be a problem.

When there is an overgrowth of bacteria at the base of the eyelashes, dandruff-like flakes can form and irritate eyelid skin

Skin Conditions

Certain dermatological conditions can cause blepharitis. These include:

  • A type of eczema known as seborrheic dermatitis

  • Acne rosacea, a condition that causes the skin on the face to become red and irritated

  • Contact dermatitis, a condition where the skin becomes irritated and inflamed due to direct contact with a chemical irritant or allergen

Eyelash Mites

An eyelash mite called Demodex is a common cause of blepharitis in older adults.

These parasites are commonly found on eyelashes and do not normally cause a problem.

Sometimes, however, the mites can build up at the base of the eyelashes. This can irritate the skin around the rim of the eyelashes, causing redness, irritation, and flake

Poor Hygiene

Bacteria live and breed on skin. And if the eyelids are not cleaned often enough, the bacteria can multiply. This leads to an overgrowth of bacteria that can irritate eyelid skin.

To keep bacteria levels low, it is important to wash with cleanser and water regularly.

Poor hygiene is a common cause of blepharitis in children, teens, and eyelash extension wearers.


Blepharitis can be caused by an overgrowth of bacteria, certain dermatological conditions, or eyelash mites. In children, teens, and eyelash extension wearers, poor hygiene is often the cause.


Home Remedies

Blepharitis responds well to treatment. However, it usually does not disappear completely and tends to keep coming back. People with blepharitis need to practice good eyelid hygiene and apply a mild cleanser (such as baby shampoo) to the eyelids to keep them free from crusts, especially during flare-ups. Blepharitis is usually treated with home remedies. In some cases, prescription medications may be needed. (LINK to How to treat Blepharitis)

A regular daily routine to prevent blepharitis may include:

  • Warm compresses. A clean, warm washcloth is applied over a closed eyelid for three to five minutes at a time to break down oils that may be clogging the eyelid glands.

  • Eyelid massages. After applying a warm compress, massaging the eyelids can help move oil out of the eyelid gland. Gently rub along the length of the upper and lower eyelids for 30 seconds.

  • Lid margin hygiene. The eyelid margin is cleaned, usually once or twice a day, to mechanically remove any crust or micro-organisms. This can be done with either commercially available eyelid scrub pads or a homemade eyelid scrub.

Eye Compresses

The first treatment for blepharitis is placing a warm compress on the affected eyelid several times a day.

Eyelid Scrub

To keep bacteria levels low, it is important to scrub your eyelids with a gentle cleanser and water.

Baby shampoo is commonly recommended because it is gentle and does not sting eyes. You can also use a specially formulated eyelid wash. (How to make your own eyelid scrub) (LINK to How to treat Blepharitis


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