What is blepharitis?
Blepharitis is a chronic inflammation of the eyelids, which causes swollen eyelids, blocked tear ducts, crusted eyelids, and flaky skin around the eyes. It can be extremely uncomfortable, with eyes feeling gritty, painful, itchy and dry.
What causes blepharitis?
Like many chronic skin conditions, a case of blepharitis is usually triggered (and aggravated) by a combination of factors, rather than one definite thing. Some people are more susceptible to flares than others, and find that they get waves of recurrent blepharitis; this includes those prone to rosacea, eczema and seborrheic dermatitis, which suggests an association with inflammatory skin conditions that result in an impaired skin barrier. Other factors which can either set off a flare of blepharitis or make an existing one worse are a reaction to the irritant ingredients in cosmetics and toiletries; cold, dry weather conditions; stress; overgrowth of yeasts, mites or bacteria on the skin.
Can blepharitis spread?
Because blepharitis is, by its nature, an inflammation of the eyes, it can’t spread to the face. It’s specific to the eyelash follicles, tear ducts and oil glands of the eyelids. Let’s look at why that might be.
The eyelids tend not to get cleaned in the same way as the rest of the face, so they are more likely to be affected by overgrowths of mites, yeast or bacterial infections, which can be more easily controlled elsewhere. The proliferation of these microorganisms, added to already sensitive skin, can cause blockages and irritation.
It’s this particular set of circumstances that leads to the inflammation of the eyelids. Inflammation or lack of hygiene elsewhere on the face will cause different skin conditions.
Blepharitis and skin conditions
There’s a definite association between blepharitis and other chronic inflammatory skin conditions such as eczema, rosacea and seborrheic dermatitis (also known as dandruff). All these skin conditions can occur across the face and scalp, but they make problems with the eyelids more common. That could be because they’re conditions that cause flaky skin, and skin flakes are part of the picture that mean oil glands and tear ducts get clogged up, and proliferation of mites and bacteria are more likely.
But a flare of rosacea or eczema on your face doesn’t mean that blepharitis has spread; rather than the same things that trigger or aggravate a flare of blepharitis can make your eczema worse too. They’re part of the same picture. Managing your skin condition will help you manage your blepharitis.
How to manage blepharitis
Blepharitis can often be managed by setting up a regular cleaning regime, although severe cases might need antibiotics to clear up any bacterial infection. Here’s our five step blepharitis routine:
- Heat: place a hot compress or eye bag over your eyes for five minutes to warm the area
- Massage: massage very gently around the eyelashes to dislodge crusts and unblock ducts
- Clean: use a fresh, clean cotton bud dipped in diluted Balmonds Natural Shampoo & Body Wash (add a drop to a egg-cup of warm water) to clean the area around the eyelashes and eyelids
- Soothe: apply Skin Salvation to protect and soothe irritation around your eyelids
- Protect: massage a small amount of Balmonds Tea Tree Balm into your eyelashes (there’s good evidence to suggest that 5% tea tree ointment can prevent mites from breeding and aggravating blepharitis)
As part of your daily cleansing routine, swap your foaming or scented make-up remover for an oil-based cleanser, like Balmonds Omega-Rich Cleansing Oil, which is much less likely to irritate your eyelids.
If the condition persists, doesn’t improve or gets worse after a week of this regime, consult a doctor or pharmacist; you may have to be prescribed antibiotic eye drops.
Balmonds Skin Salvation
with hemp and beeswax
Balmonds Natural Shampoo & Body Wash
with calendula & chamomile
Balmonds Tea Tree Balm
balm with tea tree essential oil and beeswax
Balmonds Omega-Rich Cleansing Oil
with rosehip and calendula
If you require medical advice we recommend you always contact your healthcare professional.
If you or someone you are caring for seems very unwell, is getting worse or you think there's something seriously wrong, call for emergency services straight away. For general medical advice, please contact your healthcare professional, this article does not contain or replace medical advice.
Do not delay getting help if you're worried. Trust your instincts.