Blepharitis is inflammation of the eyelid. It is a very common eye disease that affects the edge of the eyelids and eyelash hair follicles.
There are 3 main types of blepharitis: Seborrheic blepharitis—Skin cells shed more rapidly than normal due to a sebaceous gland that is not functioning properly. The sebaceous gland secretes oil to the skin. The presence of excess oil and skin cells help bacteria grow.Infectious blepharitis—Bacteria, in particular, staphylococcus, cause an infection in the glands along the eyelid.Contact dermatitis blepharitis—Something coming in contact with the eyelid leads to local inflammation. For example, mascara may produce such an allergic reaction.
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The primary types of blepharitis are caused by either a skin condition or a bacterial infection. Blepharitis often occurs along with
Factors that may increase your chance of blepharitis include: Seborrheic dermatitisAcne rosaceaContact allergiesDiabetesChemical irritantsPoor hygieneCosmetic makeupAdvanced age
Symptoms depend on the cause of the blepharitis. They are usually worse in the morning and involve both eyes.
Blepharitis may cause: Redness, flaky skin, and oily secretions along the edge of the eyelidCrusty material clinging to the eyelashesEyelids “glued together” in the morningDry scales or dandruff-type material on the scalp and eyebrowsItching or burning sensationTearingLight sensitivitySensation of a foreign object in the eyeUlcers or sores at the base of the eyelashes (in severe cases)Scant, broken eyelashes
Nonpainful bumps in the eyelid—
, which may become infected (stye)
Irritation or infection of issue that covers the eye and lines the inner surface of the eyelid—
Your eye doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history. An examination of your eyes will be done. Initially you may not have any special tests. If the inflammation looks unusual for blepharitis or fails to respond to treatment, the doctor may do a culture by passing a swab across the edge of the lid. Your doctor may also decide to perform a
by removing a tiny piece of the eyelid margin for microscopic examination to be certain that there is no sign of cancer. Rarely, some cancers can mimic chronic blepharitis.
Blepharitis is a chronic condition that often requires long-term management. Treatment depends on the cause of the condition. Your doctor may advise you not to wear contact lenses until the blepharitis has resolved.
In mild cases, your doctor may advise you to place a warm washcloth on your eye to help loosen crust. You may also have to wash your eyelids with an eyelid cleanser or diluted baby shampoo.
Blepharitis can be treated with: Antibiotic eye ointmentOral antibiotics (rarely, for recurrent infection or if the ointment fails to work)Topical corticosteroids may be needed for severe inflammation and complications
To help reduce your chance of blepharitis: Always wash your hands before touching your eyelidsDo not share eye makeupWash your hair and face daily
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Last reviewed December 2014 by Michael Woods, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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