Blepharitis is an unpleasant but fortunately harmless condition in which the eyelids become inflamed. This can be uncomfortable but rarely affects eyesight or general health. That said, it is not something that anyone would choose, and it can be not only uncomfortable but also embarrassing and unattractive. And while complications are uncommon when they do occur they can be quite concerning. For instance it may lead to depigmentation of the eyelashes causing them to appear thin and white. It can also result in styes, conjunctivitis, ulcers and even scarring. Treating the blepharitis however will reduce your chances of getting these symptoms and also help it to clear up faster.
What Is Blepharitis?
Symptoms of blepharitis include flaky skin, sticky discharge and sometimes dried balls that have formed from the discharge. Normally it affects the edges of the eyelids more, and usually it will be equally as present on both sides – though cases do vary.
The causes of blepharitis also vary and this can result in slight differences in the case. For instance staphylococcal blepharitis is caused by the staphylococcus bacterium which you may remember from the 'hospital super bug' that causes so many problems for people staying in hospital. This bacteria exists harmless on the skin of one third of the adult population, but when it comes into contact with an open wound or even a hair follicle it can result in infection that causes swelling and tissue damage.
Seborrhoeic blepharitis is caused by a localized case of the skin condition seborrhoeic dermatitis which results in itchy, dry and red skin. Finally, meibomian blepharitis is a result of problems of the meibomian glands which is the technical term for the tear ducts. Here the tear glands cause swelling, but also fail to produce normal tears causing the eyes to feel dry and itchy.
Blepharitis Treatment and Home Remedies
The treatment will vary slightly depending on the type of blepharitis you have, and will vary in its effectiveness. There are also some steps you can take at home. Treatment options and home remedies are listed below.
Simple eyelid hygiene can help you to avoid infection and to kill off any present bacteria and prevent any more from causing further damage. Washing your eyelids once a day is recommended but you need to be careful not to cause further irritation and not to get washing products inside your eyes. To achieve this you can use cotton wool dabbed in baby shampoo and water which is mild but cleansing. Alternatively you can try using a specialized wipe which you can buy from most pharmacies. Try to avoid touching your eyes more than necessary throughout the day even though they may be itchy. Not only can this risk further irritation, but you will transfer the bacteria from your hands to your eyes and this is how many staph infections take hold to start with.
If your hygiene regime does not help to cure your blepharitis then you may need to use further measures. To do this you will need to have the medication prescribed by your doctor and it's important to recognize that it won't be suitable in all cases.
A steroid cream can be used to reduce the swelling in the area and this is a good way to ease any discomfort. However these should not be used for a prolonged period of time and again it is important to check with a doctor first as they will not be suitable for all cases of blepharitis.
A warm compress can have several good effects: it will help to kill off bacteria, it will help to ease pain, it can reduce swelling and it can encourage the flow of tears. Again you can try using some cotton wool, this time dabbed in warm water. Alternatively try using a rice sock – simply fill a sock with rice, tie a knot in the end and then heat it up in the microwave. This can also help to remove blockages and can work well in combination with massage.
If you have meibomian blepharitis in particular, then you will be experiencing some discomfort as a result of having dry eyes. Using eye drops in this case can help you to rehydrate your eyes and prevent dryness and soreness that is associated with this kind.