What is Blepharitis?
Blepharitis is a common inflammation of the eyelids. Symptoms include irritation, itching, and sometimes a red eye. This often occurs in people who have oily skin, dandruff, or dry eyes. Blepharitis can begin in early childhood, and last throughout life, or it can occur later in life as an adult.
All of us have bacteria on the surface of our skin and when it starts thriving in the eyelids, the eyelids can become irritated or itchy. Some people can form an allergy to the scales and bacteria around their lashes which can lead to more serious inflammation of other eye tissues like the cornea.
Blepharitis may not be cured, but it can be controlled by the measures listed below.
1. Wash your hands first.
2. Place a warm, moist compress over each eyelid for a minute or two each day to soften or loosen the scales.
3. Scrub the eyelids at least once a day in the following manner.
- Fill a small glass with warm water.
- Add three drops of baby shampoo.
- Take a clean cotton swab or ball and soak it in the liquid.
- Gently scrub the margin of both eyelids at the base of the eyelashes to loosen any scales.
- Rinse the lid with a cotton ball soaked with cool tap water.
- Gently dry with a clean towel.
- If told to do so, apply antibiotic ointment to the base of the lashes with a cotton swab or your finger.
4. Artificial tears may be used to decrease the itchy feeling of the eye.
Keep in mind, the best prevention is lid compresses and scrubs twice a day. If symptoms last and none of the above treatments help, see your eye doctor.
In blepharitis, both upper and lower eyelids become coated with oily debris and bacteria near the base of the eyelashes. The eye feels sore and may become inflamed. Routine, thorough cleaning of the lid edge helps control the symptoms.
University Station Eye Clinic, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday
When the clinic is closed, your call will be forwarded to the hospital paging operator. Ask for the “Eye Resident on Call”. Give the operator your name and phone number with area code. The doctor will call you back.
If you live out of the area, call 1-800-323-8942 and ask to be transferred to the above number.
Please call if you have any questions or concerns.
The Spanish version of this Health Facts for You is #7274.
The information provided should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed physician should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.
Last Updated: 07/10/2013
Copyright © 07/10/2013 University of Wisconsin Hospitals and Clinics Authority. All rights reserved. Produced by the Department of Nursing. HF#5042
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