Blepharitis is an uncomfortable yet common condition. It is an inflammation of the eyelids and has a number of causes. While blepharitis isn’t exactly pleasant to have it’s not dangerous, treatable, and relatively easy to manage. Today we’ll go over the causes, signs and symptoms, blepharitis treatment options and other relevant information.
Causes of Blepharitis
Blepharitis can be caused by a number of things. The most common cause is infection by bacteria that ordinarily live on the skin. Like every organ of the body the skin harbors millions and millions of bacteria, all of which work symbiotically with your body such that every party involved survives more easily. Sometimes though those bacteria get displaced and they don’t always play as nicely when they find themselves in other organs. In the case of blepharitis bacteria that make it onto the eye and under the eyelid because you rubbed them can grow excessively causing inflammation, itchiness and the red-eye that are characteristic of blepharitis.
Other common causes of the condition are allergies which we can all relate to and blockage of the oil glands on the eyelid, reminiscent of acne. Blocking oil glands causes “backup”, so to speak and this can cause a painful inflammation in the affected area.
Signs and Symptoms
The symptoms of blepharitis are myriad and not all of them necessarily indicate blepharitis (i.e., they can be caused by other disorders or diseases) so it’s important to get an expert to verify that is what it is before you go about treating it. That said some of the most common symptoms of blepharitis are red and swollen eyes or eyelids, blurry vision, a burning sensation in the eye, dry ocular surfaces, crusted eyelashes, scaly-looking eyelids and the feeling that something is in the eye. The last of these symptoms is caused by debris from the eyelids falling into the eye this is a common feature of blepharitis.
There are a number of things you can do to keep your risk of blepharitis low. The most basic is to keep your face clean. This can mean washing daily with soap and water or using a dedicated facial cleanser. Either way be sure to wash regularly the cleaner you keep your face the lower your risk of blepharitis will be. On a similar note be careful not to rub your eyes too much with dirty hands, dirty towels or dirty makeup application tools. All of these things increase your risk of developing the condition so it’s best to avoid them.
Those who wear eye makeup should pay special attention to its removal. Keeping makeup on the eyelashes and eyelids makes it more likely that you’ll block pores, a potential cause of blepharitis and applying puts you at higher risk of bringing bacteria from the applicator to the eye. In the worst case you might be dealing with a combination of both, so take care to make sure your equipment is clean and your eyes are well-washed before bed.
Blepharitis can’t be fully cured unfortunately but it’s not hard to manage the problem. People who suffer from blepharitist find relief by soaking the area with warm water to soften scaly eyelids and remove oily skin debris from the area so that it doesn’t fall into the eye. To do this easily and safely soak a washcloth or towel in warm water and lay it over the eyes for five to ten minutes.
Cleaning the area is another important part of managing the issue. After you’ve soaked the area with warm water soak the cloth in a baby shampoo solution and then wash one (closed!) eye at a time, focusing on the eyelashes and division between the eyelids. It’s important to be gentle here because burning the skin with hot water or causing abrasions with the washcloth will obviously just worsen the problem. After all that just rinse the soap away with a warm wet not soapy washcloth and repeat on a daily or bi-daily basis.
Importance of Blepharitis Treatment
It’s important to be consistent with the above cleaning ritual because blepharitis left untreated can lead to more serious eye conditions that are actual problems and not just irritants. It is because of this you need to make sure to incorporate the cleansing as part of your daily morning or evening routine and do your best not to miss a cleanse.