7 Best Blepharitis Hygiene Tips to Help You Find Relief
What is Blepharitis?
If you’ve ever noticed crustiness or flaking on your eyelashes, you likely have blepharitis. This condition is inflammation of the eyelids, and it can cause quite a few irritating symptoms. Aside from flaking and crustiness, you might notice overall redness and irritation of the eyes and eyelids, dryness, watering of the eyes, and even blurred vision.
Blepharitis can affect both the front and the back of the eyelids. Anterior blepharitis affects the front of the eyelids where the eyelashes are housed. This form of blepharitis is most often caused by staph bacteria, which lives naturally on the body but can become problematic.
Posterior blepharitis, also known as meibomian gland dysfunction (MGD), affects the back portion of the eyelids. This is where the meibomian glands reside, and these tiny sebaceous glands work to produce the oily portion of your tear film. When there is a dysfunction in this system, MGD occurs. Other things that can contribute to blepharitis include rosacea, demodex eyelash mites, and seborrheic skin conditions.
The eyelids are so important for maintenance of healthy, comfortable eyes because of a few reasons. First of all, the tear film is composed of three layers; mucin produced by the goblet cells of the conjunctiva, aqueous produced by the lacrimal gland, and lipid or oil produced by the meibomian glands. Because the eyelids contain the meibomian glands, any harm to the eyelids could cause harm to the glands and therefore, lead to dry eye disease.
The eyelids are also important because they help spread the tear film across the front of the eye. If the eyelids are not working properly, or even when you’re not blinking enough, the front of the eyes are not being properly coated with tears.
Whether you have anterior or posterior blepharitis, the eyelids are involved. To maintain proper lubrication of the eyes, and comfort and vision for you, it’s important to have a good eyelid hygiene routine in place.
7 Best Blepharitis Hygiene Tips To Help You Find Relief
1. Wash Your Hands
Maintaining proper overall hygiene is important because bacteria and viruses can spread easily. Since bacteria is one of the main causes of blepharitis, you’ll want to make sure you’re washing your hands regularly. In fact, you likely touch your face hundreds of times per day. If you’re not washing your hands regularly, you risk spreading bacteria onto your eyelids and into your eyes.
2. Eye Makeup Removal
We see too many people who neglect to completely remove their makeup at the end of the day. First of all, not removing it is allowing chemicals to sit on your skin all night. This can increase irritation and make your eyes more sensitive. In addition to this, bacteria will begin to build up on your skin, eyelids, and eyelashes. By removing your makeup thoroughly, you avoid this issue. We recommend using an oil-based eye makeup removerbecause they usually contain fewer chemicals, and they work well to dissolve oily makeup.
For all blepharitis patients, products containing tea tree essential oil can be helpful. Tea tree is known to kill demodex eyelash mites, which can contribute to blepharitis. Demodex live naturally on our bodies, but they can become overpopulated and problematic. We recommend washing your face with a tea tree foaming face wash and using a tea tree bar soap (or other minimal-ingredient tea tree soap) on the rest of your body. This will help prevent demodex, and tea tree essential oil has anti-inflammatory properties as well.
4. Hypochlorous Acid Eyelid Cleanser
After washing your face, it’s important to clean your eyelids. Just like you brush your teeth every day to prevent cavities, cleansing your eyelids and eyelashes can go a long way in preventing blepharitis. We recommend hypochlorous acidbecause this substance is made naturally by the body in response to microorganisms. It is a gentle cleanser containing minimal ingredients. This means less irritation for your sensitive eyelid skin. To use, simply spray the solution onto your closed eyelids, rub it in, and let it dry. Alternatively, you can use a cotton ball or round for application. There’s no need to rinse this solution off.
When bacteria begin to build up on the eyelids, they form biofilm. This substance is tough to penetrate with cleansing alone, and it acts like a fortress to protect bacteria. To remove biofilm, there are a few things you can do. Many eye doctor’s offices, especially those that treat dry eye disease often, have a BlephEx. This device is used by your doctor to uncap the meibomian glands and remove biofilm to allow your glands to release oil like they should. If your doctor doesn’t offer BlephEx, you could use the NuLids device at home. This device works in a similar fashion, except you’re the one using the device. It’s recommended to use NuLids nightly for best results.
6. Warm Compress
After you’ve cleaned your eyelids and removed the biofilm, the next step is a warm compress. Because posterior blepharitis causes the oil within your meibomian glands to become stagnant and hardened, heating the oil may help it release more easily. Just like butter is hard when cold but liquid when warmed up, the same is true for your meibomian gland oils. Once they’re heated, they can be released into the tear film where they belong. Simply place a warm compress eye mask in the microwave for 20 seconds and then lie it over your closed eyelids for 10-20 minutes.
7. Decrease inflammation with diet - Green Smoothies
Last but not least, we’re going to discuss what you’re eating. Most of you likely know that filling your day with processed food and excess sugar (think fast food, baked goods, and soda) isn’t doing you any favors. I’m here to tell you that it could be destroying your health, and it’s definitely contributing to some of the dryness and irritation you’re feeling.
However, we’re not going to ask you to remove anything you love right away. Actually, the easiest way to drastically improve your diet within a few weeks is to replace your breakfast with a green smoothie. By doing this, you’re flooding your body full of hydration, nutrients and antioxidants first thing in the morning. You’re also driving out all of the horrible breakfast food you may have been consuming before (pancakes, sugary cereal, bacon, sausage, dairy). Within a few weeks, you’ll notice more energy and hopefully more comfortable eyes as well. Click here to download and print our green smoothie chart.
If you’re someone who travels a lot, if you’re away from home a lot or you just prefer to cleanse your eyelids with a wipe, we’ve got a few great options for you. Not only do these wipes help to cleanse your eyelids and ward off demodex and bacteria, but they’re also great exfoliators.
1. Eyelid Wipes
Designed with blepharitis in mind, using an eyelid wipe can be incredibly beneficial. Eyelid wipes work well to exfoliate and remove all dead skin cells and debris on the eyelids. They’re great for removing crustiness on the eyelashes as well.
2. Eyelid Wipes with Tea Tree Oil
If you know you suffer from demodex eyelash mites, choosing an eyelid wipe with tea tree oil is important. Tea tree is known to kill demodex, and it has other great benefits for the eyelids and skin. Wipes formulated with tea tree oilare anti-inflammatory, still provide nice exfoliation to the eyelids, and they’re easy to use and bring on-the-go.
FAQs about Blepharitis Hygiene
What is the main cause of blepharitis?
The main cause of anterior blepharitis is an overgrowth ofstaph bacteria. Seborrheic skin conditions, such as dermatitis and stubborn dandruff, can also contribute to anterior blepharitis. Other causes include skin rosacea and demodex eyelash mites, and these usually affect the posterior portion of the eyelids.
What is the fastest way to cure blepharitis?
While there is no cure for blepharitis, there are effective ways to manage this condition. Blepharitis is a chronic condition that will likely require lifelong treatment, and that treatment should begin with eyelid hygiene. Simply cleansing your eyelids daily can go a very long way in warding off blepharitis. We recommend using a hypochlorous acid eyelid cleanser. Hypochlorous acid is made naturally by the body to fight microorganisms, and it’s a very gentle substance that’s safe for use on the delicate eyes and eyelids.
Is blepharitis contagious?
Blepharitis is not contagious. When we think of something as being contagious, we usually first think of viruses because they can spread like wildfire. However, bacteria that contributes to blepharitis can be spread from person to person and from eye to eye. This is why general hygiene is so important. Make sure you’re washing your hands regularly during the day, washing your face well, and cleansing your eyelids daily.
Why do I get crust on my eyelids?
Crustiness of the eyelids and eyelashes is the number one symptom of blepharitis. This condition is an inflammation of the eyelids, and bacteria build-up contributes to this. Crustiness can be composed of dead skin cells, bacteria, dust, and other debris that ends up on the face.
What does blepharitis look like?
If you have blepharitis, you may or may not be able to see that you have it. Often, you may notice crustiness or flaking on your eyelids and lashes. If you can’t see this, your doctor often can by using a microscope. In addition to this, you may notice that your eyes and eyelids appear red and irritated. Many people with blepharitis notice that the rims of their eyes have a red appearance. These are just a few of the common symptoms, although many others are possible.