How is blepharitis treated?

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Blepharitis is a common skin disorder in which the eyelids become red, irritated, itchy, and inflamed. Inflammation of the eyelids, also known as eyelid inflammation, is usually treated with home remedies. However, in more severe cases, prescription drugs may be required.

This article looks at the symptoms, causes, and treatment of blepharitis. You will also learn about home remedies, over-the-counter treatments, and prescription medications that treat chronic eyelid inflammation.

DermNet Blepharitis / CC BY-NC-ND

Symptoms of blepharitis

Common symptoms of blepharitis include:

  • Burning, tingling, or tearing
  • Flakes on the eyelids and eyelashes that look like dandruff.
  • Dry eyes
  • Swelling or thickening of the eyelids
  • Feeling there is something in your eyes
  • Red and irritated eyelids
  • Foamy tears or bubbly tears.
  • Waking up with crisp eyelids or eyelashes

In some cases, symptoms may go away and return after a few weeks. This is called chronic blepharitis and it is difficult to treat.

What Causes Blepharitis?

Blepharitis can be caused by an infection, a parasite, or a skin condition.

Infection

A bacterial infection can cause blepharitis. It is normal to have bacteria on your skin all the time. However, too many bacteria can be a problem.

When there is an overgrowth of bacteria at the base of the eyelashes, dandruff-like scales can form and irritate the skin on the eyelids.

Skin diseases

Certain dermatological conditions can cause blepharitis. This includes:

  • A type of eczema known as seborrheic dermatitis .
  • Acne rosacea is a condition in which the skin on the face becomes red and irritated.
  • Contact dermatitis , a condition in which the skin becomes irritated and inflamed due to direct contact with a chemical irritant or allergen.

Ciliary mites

The ciliated demodex mite is a common cause of blepharitis in the elderly.

These parasites are commonly found on the eyelashes and generally do not cause problems.

However, mites can sometimes accumulate at the base of the eyelashes. It can irritate the skin around the edge of the lashes, causing redness, irritation and flaking.

Poor hygiene

Bacteria live and multiply on the skin. And if you don't rinse your eyelids often enough, bacteria can multiply. This leads to an overgrowth of bacteria that can irritate the skin on the eyelids.

It is important to wash regularly with soap and water to reduce bacteria levels.

Poor hygiene is a common cause of blepharitis in children and adolescents.

Summary

Blepharitis can be caused by an overgrowth of bacteria, certain dermatological conditions, or hair mites. In children and adolescents, poor hygiene is often the cause.

Home remedies

Blepharitis is usually treated with home remedies. In some cases, prescription drugs may be required.

Eye compresses

The first treatment for blepharitis is to apply a warm compress to the affected eyelid several times a day.

To make an eye compress, moisten a cloth or paper towel with warm water. Let it sit on your eyelid for a few minutes or until the compress has cooled to room temperature.

You can also use a warm tea bag as an eye compress. After preparation, allow the bag to cool so that it is warm, but not hot.

According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, the tea bag compress has no additional benefits over warm water. However, its shape can make it easier to use.

Eyelid scrub

To reduce bacteria levels, it is important to clean your eyelids with a mild cleanser and water.

Baby shampoo is generally recommended because it is mild and does not harm the eyes. You can also use a specially formulated eye gel.

To dry eyelids, apply a drop of cleanser to a warm cloth and work until lather. Close your eyes and gently rub the eyelid in a horizontal back and forth motion. Then wash with cold water.

Do this twice a day after applying a warm compress for best results. This will help eliminate mild blepharitis.

Over-the-counter treatments

Eyelid rinses that treat blepharitis are available without a prescription. These cleansers can help eliminate chronic blepharitis and prevent further inflammation of the eyelids.

Avenova

Avenova is an eyelid cleanser that contains 0.01% hypochlorous acid. Clinical studies show that hypochlorous acid treats the bacteria that cause blepharitis.

To apply, spray Avenova onto a cotton pad or cotton pad. Then rub it horizontally three times over the upper and lower lashes. Repeat with a new cotton ball for the other eye. Use it twice a day.

Cliradex

Cliradex are healing wipes that contain Melaleuca alternifolia , a form of tea tree oil that treats blepharitis. Research shows that a compound in tea tree oil known as 4-terpineol helps relieve symptoms of blepharitis.

To treat blepharitis, clean your eyelids and eyelashes with Cliradex wipes twice a day for 10 days. If symptoms persist, continue to use Cliradex wipes once a day for another 10 days.

Cliradex is safe for daily use and is also suitable for removing eye makeup.

Blefadex

Blephadex are medicated wipes that treat blepharitis caused by eyelash mites. The wipes contain a mild eyelid cleanser, tea tree oil, and coconut oil.

According to research, tea tree oil can reduce the number of demodex mites and help eliminate blepharitis. Additionally, tea tree and coconut oils have antimicrobial properties, which means that they kill microorganisms like bacteria, viruses, and fungi.

Coconut oil also has powerful anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving properties that help relieve blepharitis symptoms.

Summary

The new drugs, Avenova, Blephadex and Cliradex, contain ingredients that treat the underlying causes of blepharitis and help eliminate chronic infections.

Recipes

If home care does not relieve symptoms of blepharitis, see an eye doctor (ophthalmologist).

They can prescribe medications to treat the causes and symptoms of blepharitis.

Antibiotics

Antibiotics are used to treat blepharitis caused by bacteria overgrowth. Depending on the severity of the infection, your doctor may prescribe a topical antibiotic applied to the skin or an oral antibiotic taken by mouth.

Topical antibiotic ointments used to treat blepharitis include:

  • Erythromycin ophthalmic
  • Ophthalmic bacitracin

If topical treatment does not completely cure the infection, your doctor may prescribe an oral antibiotic such as tetracycline or doxycycline.

Steroids

In some cases, corticosteroids are used to control inflammation and irritation of the eyelids.

Prescription steroids used to treat blepharitis can come in the form of eye drops, topical ointments, or oral medications.

Combined treatment

Blepharitis is often treated with a combination of antibiotics and corticosteroids. Research shows that combination therapies can be more effective than antibiotics or steroids alone.

Prescription blefamide combines an antibiotic (sulfacetamide sodium) with a corticosteroid (prednisolone acetate).

Blefamide comes as topical eye drops and ointments.

Eyelash mite treatment

When eyelash mites cause blepharitis, your doctor may prescribe medication to kill the parasites.

Stromectol (ivermectin) is an oral medication used to kill Demodex eyelash mites. The drug is taken in two doses with an interval of one week.

Summary

Home treatments for blepharitis include applying warm compresses and rubbing the eyelids with baby shampoo. Over-the-counter blepharitis eyelid rinses can also help in mild cases.

If home treatments don't relieve irritation and inflammation, see your eye doctor. You may need eye drops, topical ointments or antibiotics, and oral steroids.

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