What is blepharitis?
Blepharitis is a common and usually fairly mild eye irritation. It can make your eye feel gritty, itchy, sore or dry, and is often associated with skin conditions such as eczema, rosacea and seborrheic dermatitis. Blepharitis is considered a chronic condition; this means it is likely to come and go over a period of time, sometimes totally disappearing, but sometimes persisting for weeks or months.
If blepharitis isn’t well managed, it can get worse and cause further problems. Styes, chalazions, infections, problems with your vision, conjunctivitis, even damage to the cornea are all possible complications if the flare persists. Even an uncomplicated case of blepharitis can be incredibly distracting and uncomfortable, making it difficult to work or relax.
What causes blepharitis?
The key to controlling blepharitis lies in understanding why it happens, and the truth is that blepharitis can be affected by a variety of different factors, often occurring in tandem. This means that a combination of different things all happening at once can trigger or prolong a flare-up of the condition.
Possible causes or aggravating factors include:
- Having another chronic skin condition, such as dandruff, eczema or rosacea
- Having an overgrowth of yeasts or bacteria on your eyelids
- Your oil glands or tear ducts getting clogged, or not working properly
- Having allergies or sensitivities to makeup, cosmetics or medications
- Having a proliferation of mites or lice on your eyelids
- Being prone to dry eyes
If you’re prone to blepharitis, it’s sensible to be aware of all the different things which can trigger or aggravate a flare, and take steps to manage them.
A 7-point plan to prevent blepharitis
Although it’s not possible to cure blepharitis completely, you can stack the odds in your favour, so that you reduce the risk of another flare happening, and reduce the severity and frequency of any that do occur. Luckily, there are quite a few simple things you can do to help yourself.
- Moisturise: manage your skin condition as best as possible by keeping your skin well moisturised and free from irritation, especially in cold, dry weather.
- Cleanse: use a fresh cotton bud to wash your eyelids twice daily with a gentle, well diluted wash, such as Balmonds Natural Shampoo & Body Wash
- Massage: place a warm compress on your eyes for five minutes, then gently massage your eyelids to prevent blocked ducts
- Avoid irritants: swap out fragranced toiletries and cosmetics for unscented alternatives, and be aware of anything else that might be irritating your eyes: mascara, contact lens solution, shampoo, etc.
- Protect: you can try using Balmonds Tea Tree balm to help keep the yeasts, bacteria and mites that live on your eyelashes in check. Smear a small amount on your eyelashes last thing at night.
- Be screen aware: spending a long time on screens can affect the frequency of blinking, meaning your eyes aren’t kept well enough oiled. Take regular screen breaks, reduce the glare of your screen, wear anti glare glasses.
- Think holistically: the condition of your eyes can reflect your overall health, so keep yourself as well as possible to help your body fight off flares; being run down has a knock-on effect on chronic conditions like blepharitis. That might mean a healthy, oil-rich diet, effective stress management techniques, getting enough exercise and enough sleep.
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.
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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.