Blepharitis is a chronic condition characterized by inflammation of the eyelid. Inflammation typically occurs along the eyelid margins where your eyelashes grow, according to the Mayo Clinic. Blepharitis is often caused by viral or bacterial infections or malfunctioning oil glands at the base of the eyelashes. Allergies, eyelash mites, rosacea or seborrheic dermatitis may also contribute to the development of this condition. Treatment for blepharitis varies based on the cause of the ailment.
The Mayo Clinic reports that other symptoms of blepharitis may include red, watery eyes, loss of eyelashes or eyelashes that grow in at odd angles. Your eye may be itchy or feel like there is something in it. You may experience sensitivity to light, and your eyelids may look greasy or flakey. In some cases, you may wake up in the morning with a scaly or hard crust along the eyelashes and margins of your eyelid which make it difficult to open your eye. When blepharitis is caused by staphylococcal bacterial, the removal of this crust can result in ulceration of the eyelid tissues.
Good hygiene is the most important treatment for blepharitis. Individuals with acute blepharitis should cleanse their eyelids at least twice a day, according to the University of Michigan Kellogg Eye Center. Routine cleansing of the eyelids can help control blepharitis. To clean your eyelids, loosen the crusts and scales with a warm, moist compress. Dip a cotton ball in a commercially prepared eyelid cleansing solution and use the cotton ball to gently massage the upper and lower eyelids at the base of the eyelashes. Next, dip a cotton swab in the cleansing solution and gently remove any scales or crust from your eyelashes. Rinse your eyes with cool water and pat dry. As the condition improves, it is still important to cleanse your eyelids daily to prevent new flare-ups.
Medication is another treatment option for blepharitis, although the use of medication does not replace the need for routine cleaning. If your blepharitis is caused by a bacterial infection, your doctor may prescribe an antibiotic ointment, according to the Merck Manuals Online Medical Library. Treatment for blepharitis that is the result of a virus such as herpes simplex or varicella zoster may require the use of systemic antivirals. Eye drops or ointments that contain steroids such as cortisone may reduce inflammation associated with blepharitis, although long term use of steroidal medication is not recommended, according to the University of Michigan Kellogg Eye Center.
Blepharitis is a common condition, and in some people it is little more than an annoyance. Unfortunately, the Mayo clinic reports that in some individuals, blepharitis can affect eye tissues beyond the margins of the eyelids such as the cornea, causing damage. Chronic blepharitis can become resistant to treatment. The best way to protect your eyes is through early intervention. If you have symptoms of blepharitis, see your physician. In addition to treatment for your eye, you may also require treatment for any underlying conditions that contribute to your blepharitis. Remember, prevention is the most effective treatment for blepharitis.