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Blepharitis: The Itch You Can't Scratch


If I were to guess, I would say there is a good chance that you have never heard of blepharitis.  Prior to working at an ophthalmologist’s office, neither had I.  Although the name seems unfamiliar, the symptoms are all too common.

Blepharitis, in simpler terms, is inflammation of the eyelids.

The most frequent signs and symptoms are:

What Causes Blepharitis, and Is It Contagious?

The clogging of tiny oil glands located near the eyelids can lead to many of the previously mentioned signs and symptoms.  What causes the clogging of these tiny oil glands can prove difficult to pin point as several diseases and conditions can cause blepharitis. Many people who identify as having oily skin, will also find themselves at a higher risk for developing blepharitis. The condition is not contagious and can’t be passed to your partner or friends.

Complications That May Arise

Blepharitis is often a chronic condition, and if left untreated, complications may arise:

Dry eye: The oily secretions, and debris shed from the eyelids can mix with naturally produced tears and disrupt the healthy lubrication of your eyes.  The disrupted lubrication can irritate your eyes and can lead to dry eyes.

Stye: Just as the oily secretions and debris can disrupt the lubrication of the eye, they can lead to the blockage of oil glands near the eyelid.  Once clogged, these blocked glands can become infected with bacteria, causing a red and swollen eyelid.

Keeping Blepharitis Under Control

The best way to treat blepharitis is with good hygiene. Most people are used to the idea of brushing their teeth, washing their hair, but many are not accustomed to washing their eyelids. By adding these two steps into your daily hygiene regimen you can treat this often chronic condition and avoid those annoying symptoms. It is recommended that you complete these steps morning and night.

            Blepharitis Care:        

  1. Apply a warm compress over eyelids for 3-5 minutes.
    • The heat can loosen the debris and oil that is clogging pores.
  2. Gently scrub the eyelids with a mixture of baby shampoo and water. Use a clean Q-tip, or your fingertip to apply the mixture to the eyelid, paying special attention to clean the base of the eyelashes. Wash with warm water when complete.
    • The baby shampoo solution will help remove the oil, and built up debris.
    • This step is especially important for people who wear make-up. The chemicals in make-up commonly act as eye irritants.

If condition persists or worsens medical interventions such as topical ointments, antibiotics, and eye drops are available to treat the condition.

Christian O'Conner

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