Your eyelids protect and clean your eyes but also can be sources of bacterial infection. Blepharitis, or “granulated lids,” is an inflammation of the edges of the eyelids. This results in a persistent redrimmed, scaly appearance that usually affects both eyes at once. The ailment is generally not serious and is rarely a threat to vision. But blepharitis tends to be a chronic condition and may require long-term treatment.
Symptoms of Blepharitis
- Scaly, red eyelids that are inflamed around the margins
- Sandy, itchy and burning sensation in the eyes
- Awakening to a sticky crust sealing the eyelids
- Sensitivity to light
- Dandruff-like flakes of skin on the eyelids.
- Scant and broken eyelashes
What Causes Blepharitis?
Blepharitis is often associated with seborrhea (seborrheic dermatitis)red, scaly, itchy patches of skin that affect the scalp and parts of the face. A bacterial infection also often causes or complicates the problem: eyelashes each grow out of separate follicles, and bacteria can enter readily, resulting in infection. Pus oozes out along the eyelash, where it dries, crusts, and falls into the eye, causing chronic red eyes. In rare cases blepharitis may be caused by an infestation of lice in the eyelashes.
What If You Do Nothing?
Sometimes blepharitis clears up on its own, but it can easily recur and become chronic. Early treatment is essential to prevent recurrence or complications.
Home Remedies for Blepharitis
- Keep your eyelids clean. Wash your eyelids three times daily with warm saltwater baby shampoo diluted with water. Use a cotton-tip applicator to gently scrub the eyelid margins, upper and lower, removing all traces of the dry crust. Use a new tip for each margin. Do this procedure when you awaken, at midday when oils and pus accumulate, and at bedtime.
- Don’t wear eye makeup until the inflammation subsides. Mascara or eye shadow may result in contact dermatitis of the eyelids.
- Don’t wear contact lenses until the condition is resolved. If your case is chronic, discuss with your ophthalmologist when you can continue wearing the lenses.
Controlling blepharitis with the remedies outlined above will also prevent it from recurring or worsening. Also, use a medicated shampoo to control any seborrhea of the scalp.
Beyond Home Remedies: When To Call Your Doctor
If your case doesn’t clear up after two weeks of self-care measures, contact your ophthalmologist. If you notice lice on yourself (or on a child who is infected), call a doctor right away.
What Your Doctor Will Do
After a careful examination your physician may prescribe an antibiotic ointment to rub onto the eyelids to counteract the bacteria. If lice are the cause, the doctor will recommend an ophthalmic ointment and/or will remove the nits by hand.
The Complete Home Wellness Handbook
John Edward Swartzberg, M.D., F.A.C.P., Sheldon Margen, M.D., and the editors of the UC Berkeley Wellness Letter
Updated by Remedy Health Media