Blepharitis is a common condition which involves inflammation of the eyelashes and eyelid margins. Blepharitis typically presents with crusting, redness and irritation of the eyelashes and lids. The condition frequently occurs in people who have either dry or oily skin. Patients with skin conditions such as rosacea, eczema or psoriasis also have a tendency to develop blepharitis. Blepharitis can either begin in childhood and continue throughout life as a chronic condition or develop later in life.
There are varying degrees of blepharitis. Mild to moderate cases may present with minor scaling, redness and crusting. Symptoms include itching, irritation and tearing. Severe cases of blepharitis may present as a significant infection and/or inflammation of the eyelashes and eyelids. If untreated, blepharitis can cause serious eye problems such as conjunctivitis, keratitis, corneal ulcers and permanent eyelid abnormalities.
Blepharitis is a condition that may not be cured, however, it can be controlled with a few simple daily measures:
- Wet a facecloth with comfortably warm water, wring it out then place it over closed eyelids. You may need to repeat this several times to keep the cloth warm. Alternatively, a potato warmed in the microwave then wrapped in a washcloth could be used to apply heat to each eyelid. Hold the warm compress over each eye for about 5 minutes. This should be done twice a day.
- After applying the hot compresses, take 2-3 drops of baby shampoo and mix it in a cup of warm water. Dip a cotton-tipped applicator (Q-Tip) in the solution and vigorously scrub the base of the lashes, top and bottom of each eye. Make certain to scrub from the innermost lashes to the outermost lashes. Use several cotton-tipped applicators on each eye. When finished, all crusting, scaling and discharge should be completely gone.
- Continue this routine twice a day for a least one month. Once the eyelids and eyes appear healthy, continue to perform lid scrubs weekly. This will maintain good ocular hygiene.
- The doctor may also prescribe an ointment to apply to the eyelids in addition to the above instructions.