Blepharitis is a common, chronic infection and inflammation of the eyelids. Symptoms include irritation, itching, and occasionally, a red eye. Symptoms may disappear for months or even years and then recur.
The most important factor in controlling blepharitis is keeping your lashes meticulously clean. This can be accomplished by daily cleaning with a mild baby shampoo solution (a few drops of baby shampoo in a cup of warm water) or commercially available eye scrubs.
Warm, moist compresses can also help relieve the symptoms of blepharitis when used in conjunction with regular eyelid cleansing. It is often helpful to place a warm moist compress over the eyelids for 3 to 5 minutes prior to performing the eyelid cleaning procedure.
Once the symptoms are under control, this cleaning may be decreased from daily to twice weekly. However, if the symptoms return, daily cleansing should be resumed immediately. Medication is of secondary importance in the treatment. In some cases, eye drops or ointment will be prescribed to be used along with the daily cleansing.
There are three main causes of blepharitis: staphylococcus bacteria, seborrhea and rosacea. Staphylococcus bacteria commonly begins in childhood and continues throughout adulthood. Common symptoms include dandruff-like scales on lashes, crusting, and chronic redness at the lid margin. Also seen are dilated blood vessels, loss of lashes, styes, and chalazia. If left untreated, infection and scarring of the cornea and conjunctiva can occur.
Seborrhea is secondary to overactive glands causing greasy, waxy scales to accumulate along the eyelid margins. Seborrhea may be a part of an overall skin disorder that affects other areas. Hormones, nutrition, general physical condition and stress are factors in seborrhea.
Blepharitis can also be associated with a chronic disorder of the facial skin called rosacea. Skin affected by rosacea has one or more of the following features: a redness that looks like a blush, pimples, knobby lumps on the nose, and/or thin red lines due to enlarged blood vessels. Rosacea develops slowly over time and will often gradually worsen, but it can be treated. Treatment may include oral antibiotics or antibiotic ointments in association with the lid cleansing treatments for blepharitis.