Blepharitis is a very common disorder caused by
the inflammation of the eyelid and is associated with some skin
condition and dandruff.
In this condition, the skin of the eyelids, and in most cases,
the part of the eyelid where the eyelashes grow, called the lid
margins, are affected.
Almost everyone at sometime or the other in life has to endure
at least one bout of blepharitis. Some people have to deal with
this problem repeatedly and continuously. In such cases it becomes
a chronic problem causing a great deal of discomfort and becomes
difficult to treat or permanently resolve. Fortunately the disease
never causes any permanent damage to the eye.
Symptoms of blepharitis
The symptoms found in blepharitis are:
- Irritation on the eyelid skin, especially at the lid
- Redness at the lid margin
- Dry, flaky or oily eyelid skin
- Presence of dandruff at the
base of the eyelashes
Since the symptoms resemble to some extent those found in seborrhea,
acne and dandruff, many believe blepharirtis to be all three disorders
at the same time on the eyelid.
Types of blepharitis and their causes
Blepharitis is of several types. But the most common ones are
called seborrheic and staphylococcal blepharitis.
Seborrheic blepharitis is a condition that is caused by a malfunctioning
called seborrhea. In seborrhea there is a mechanical disruption
of the process, which allows the eye to be properly lubricated
and kept suitably moist. The malfunctioning occurs in tiny oil
glands, located near the base of the eyelashes. These eye glands
get clogged resulting in bacterial growth, which can lead to irritation
and itching of the eyelids.
Staphylococcal blepharitis: Sometimes blepharitis may result
from a systemic immune system reaction. With the onset of blepharitis
the thin skin of the eyelid breaks down and becomes flaky. The
resulting debris of these flakes enters the eye, mixes with the
tears, becomes sticky and adheres to the lid margin or the eyelashes
causing irritation and an inflammatory reaction. This inflammatory
reaction further disrupts the lubricating action of the oil glands
to start the repetition of another cycle of eyelid skin breakdown,
flaking and inflammation. This cycle continues until there is
a medical intervention.
Staphylococcal blepharitis results when sometimes this repeated
occurrence of irritation and inflammation brings about conditions,
which are favorable for the staphylococcal bacteria to enter and
thrive. What follows now is a genuine infection in addition to
the already deteriorated eyelid condition. Very rarely is an initial
bacterial invasion the root cause of blepharitis.
Blepharitis can also result from contact allergy to eye make-up,
insect bite or unclean fingers touching the eyelid.
There are also some forms, which are triggered by allergens such
as dust, dirt, pollen, smoke, hair spray, cat fur or cosmetics
in the same way as in common allergy.
Blepharitis often cures by itself without any medication. The
body’s natural recuperative powers resolve the condition
within a day or two without any medical intervention. In other
cases it is difficult to make any prognosis of the disease.
It may recur and resolve periodically or become chronic and
Since blepharitis is often a mechanical problem the treatment,
when required, consists mainly of looking after eye hygiene. This
means physically cleaning the eyelid several times a day to remove
the flakes and scale from the eyelids and the eyelashes with a
cleanser. Baby shampoo on washcloth or cotton swabb is most commonly
used as cleansers. Applying warm compresses is likely to help
the healing process by unclogging the oil glands. Application
of drops, ointment or lotion would help maintain the lubrication
and pliability of the skin.
In case it is seborrheic blepharitis constant monitoring of the
condition of the scalp may be required. Treatment should not end
till all symptoms are cleared and remains clear for at least a
In case of bacterial infection it is best to apply antibiotic
ointment, preferably, before going to sleep at night.
If there is a recurrence of blepharitis treatment should be started
immediately. The sooner the problem is addressed faster will be
People with blepharitis can wear cosmetic contact lens but these
should be removed when the condition becomes severe.
Management of the blepharitis condition requires constant attention
to personal hygiene in particular to eye cleanliness. It is also
necessary to remain in constant touch with the doctor during treatment.