Inflammation of the margin of the upper or lower eyelid or both

  • Age, gender, genetics, and lifestyle are not significant factors

Blepharitis, in which the margin of one or both eyelids becomes inflamed, is often associated with the skin disorders seborrhoeic dermatitis and rosacea. Blepharitis may also be due to a bacterial infection or an allergy to cosmetics.

If you have blepharitis, your eyelids will be swollen, red, and itchy. The margins of the eyelids may be covered with soft, greasy scales that dry into crusts, sticking the eyelashes together. In some cases, the roots of the eyelashes become infected, causing small ulcers or styes to form.

What is the treatment?

You can relieve the symptoms by holding a clean, warm, damp cloth against the eyelid. The healing process may be helped by gently cleaning the eyelids twice a day with baby shampoo diluted half-and-half with water. If you have seborrhoeic dermatitis, treating it with a dandruff shampoo that contains an antifungal agent should also help the blepharitis. If the blepharitis recurs repeatedly, see your doctor, who may prescribe topical antibiotics (see Drugs acting on the eye) or a corticosteroid. The condition often clears up after 2 weeks of treatment, but it may recur. Allergic blepharitis usually improves on its own if you avoid contact with the trigger substance.

From the 2010 revision of the Complete Home Medical Guide © Dorling Kindersley Limited.

The subjects, conditions and treatments covered in this encyclopaedia are for information only and may not be covered by your insurance product should you make a claim.

Back to top