Blepharitis

Topic Overview

What is blepharitis?

Blepharitis (say "bleh-fuh-RY-tus") is a skin problem that affects the eyelids and lashes. It may be caused by bacteria or by other skin conditions such as dandruff, skin allergies, or eczema.

If you have blepharitis, you're also more likely to get styes.

What are the symptoms?

If you have blepharitis:

In some cases, symptoms may be more severe.

How is blepharitis diagnosed?

The doctor will look at your eyes, eyelids, and eyelashes with a lighted tool.

How is it treated?

In many cases, regular washing of your eyelids, eyelashes, eyebrows, and hair can control blepharitis. To wash your eyelids:

  • Put a few drops of baby shampoo in a cup of water, and dip a cotton ball, cotton swab, or washcloth in the liquid. With your eyes closed, gently wipe across each eyelid about 10 times. Make sure to wipe across the lashes too. Rinse well.
  • Or, if you take a shower, let warm water run over your closed eyes for a minute. Then put a few drops of baby shampoo on a washcloth and use it to gently scrub the lids and lashes. Rinse the shampoo away.

You can also put a warm, wet washcloth over your eyes. If your eyes are dry, artificial tears may help.

You may need antibiotics to treat some types of blepharitis. For example, if you have eye pain or a lot of swelling and redness, you may need to see a doctor for treatment.

While your eyelids are healing, it may be a good idea to avoid wearing contact lenses or eye makeup.

Frequently Asked Questions

Learning about blepharitis:

Other Places To Get Help

Organizations

EyeSmart
P.O. Box 7424
San Francisco, CA  94120-7424
Phone: (415) 561-8540
Fax: (415) 561-8533
Email: eyesmart@aao.org
Web Address: www.geteyesmart.org
 

This website is provided by the American Academy of Ophthalmology. It provides general information and brochures on eye conditions and diseases and low-vision resources and services.


National Eye Institute, National Institutes of Health
Information Office
31 Center Drive MSC 2510
Bethesda, MD  20892-2510
Phone: (301) 496-5248
Email: 2020@nei.nih.gov
Web Address: www.nei.nih.gov
 

As part of the U.S. National Institutes of Health, the National Eye Institute provides information on eye diseases and vision research. Publications are available to the public at no charge. The Web site includes links to various information resources.


References

Other Works Consulted

  • American Academy of Ophthalmology Corneal/External Disease Panel (2011). Blepharitis: Limited revision. Preferred Practice Pattern Guidelines. Available online: http://one.aao.org/CE/PracticeGuidelines/PPP_Content.aspx?cid=500cd9ca-173c-4c31-b6ea-a258e3549474.
  • American Optometric Association (2010). Care of the Patient With Ocular Surface Disorders. Optometric Clinical Practice Guideline. Available online: http://www.guideline.gov/content.aspx?id=33585.
  • Lindsley K, et al. (2012). Interventions for chronic blepharitis. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews (5).

Credits

By Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer Christopher J. Rudnisky, MD, MPH, FRCSC - Ophthalmology
Last Revised January 25, 2013

This information does not replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information. Your use of this information means that you agree to the Terms of Use. How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.

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