Blepharitis is an inflammatory condition of the eyelids which can make them itchy, sore and dry. It can make your eyes swollen, watery and feel like they have grit in them.
Blepharitis can be caused by a variety of things - blocked oil glands, bacterial overgrowth or mite proliferation, hormonal imbalances, allergies, infection or skin conditions - so getting rid of a blepharitis flare will depend on what triggered your particular case.
The condition is not really something that can be cured, as people who get blepharitis tend to get it again, but there are ways you can help yourself keep it under control and clear up a flare when it happens. (See our article What Is The Main Cause Of Blepharitis? for more information about what might be causing the inflammation.)
How to clean eyes affected by blepharitis
One of the problems that can contribute to blepharitis is that the area is not regularly cleaned, and skin cell and mite debris can build up in the eyelashes, blocking glands and causing the inflammation. The first step in managing the condition is to keep the area meticulously clean. Follow these steps:
- Dilute a few drops of extra-gentle shampoo (Balmonds Natural Shampoo & Body Wash would work perfectly) in a basin of warm water and stir it around
- Dip a clean cotton pad, cotton bud or clean, soft face cloth in the mixture
- If your eyelids are very crusty rest the warm damp cloth or pad on your eyes for five minutes
- Massage one eyelid carefully and gently for 30 seconds and wipe any oil or crustiness away
- Rinse with clean warm water and a fresh pad/cloth
Use a different clean cloth or pad to massage, wipe and rinse your other eyelid
- Massage tea tree ointment* into skin at the base of the eyelashes
- Repeat morning and night until symptoms clear
Research has shown that tea tree oil is very effective against the Demodex mites that can cause blepharitis, and tea tree ointment can break their life cycle, preventing proliferation.
Other tips for managing blepharitis:
- Don’t use mascara or eyeliner during a flare-up
- Don’t use contact lenses while you have symptoms
- Replace old makeup with fresh new products
- Use Skin Salvation to keep itchy or dry skin around your eyes protected and hydrated
You can try these strategies at home, but if your symptoms don’t improve - or get worse - within a week then consult your doctor or pharmacist, who can recommend eye drops or antibiotics if necessary.
Long-term strategies and your skin
In the long-term, it might be worthwhile looking at more holistic strategies for keeping your eyelids in good health, and lessening the likelihood of a mite infestation. Things that allow mites to proliferate can also aggravate the chronic skin conditions that are associated with blepharitis, particularly rosacea, but also seborrheic dermatitis and eczema.
One research paper suggests that patients look at the things which make a proliferation of Demodex more likely: ‘sunlight exposure, alcohol intake, smoking, stress, hot beverages, spicy food, and abrupt changes in temperature’. Because these are triggers for rosacea as well as Demodex proliferation, it follows that managing your rosacea by reducing or eliminating these things as best you can will help manage flares of blepharitis.
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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.