Blepharitis is inflammation of the eyelids, which often leads to red and swollen eyelids. It is a very common condition which can occur at any age, however it is more prevalent in elderly individuals. The vast majority encounter flare-ups in symptoms followed by episodes without any side effects. It is not a contagious condition, although bacteria can be spread from person to person. When this bacteria spreads, it has the potential to cause everything from blepharitis to meibomian gland dysfunction (MGD) and styes.
How Blepharitis Influences You
The symptoms of blepharitis can include: soreness or stinging in the eyes, red eyes and eyelids, dry eyelashes filled with crustiness, and bothersome eyelids. Blepharitis can also contribute to other conditions such as dry eyes and styes. The exact cause of blepharitis is tough to pinpoint, but there are a few different things that may contribute to the condition:
Staph bacteria, which naturally lives on the skin of humans, is the most common cause of blepharitis when it becomes overpopulated on the skin of the eyelids.
Seborrhoeic dermatitis, which causes an irritated rash on scalp and skin (seborrhoeic dermatitis of the scalp is known as dandruff). Seborrhoeic conditions cause an overabundance of oil production on the skin, and this can contribute to blepharitis.
Facial rosacea, which makes the face red, leathery, and uncomfortable, can also lead to ocular rosacea and blepharitis.
Demodex eyelash mites, that naturally live in our hair follicles and sebaceous glands, can reproduce quickly and become an issue, causing blepharitis and overall, irritated eyes.
How do you know if you have Blepharitis?
Tests and techniques used to analyze blepharitis include:
An examination of your eyelids: Your eyecare specialist will precisely analyze your eyelids and your eyes. He or she may utilize a unique magnifying instrument during the examination, which will allow the doctor to visualize your eyelids and lashes.
Skin Swab Testing: In specific cases, your specialist may utilize a swab to gather a sample of the oil or outside crust that appears on your eyelid. This can be investigated for microorganisms, growths or proof of sensitivity.
Blepharitis can be easily managed by performing a few at-home treatments on a daily basis. It is usually recommended that most of these steps be done twice per day, as this will really keep the bacteria at bay and allow your eyelids to heal.
Remove your Makeup with a Tea Tree Oil Makeup Remover
It’s amazing that so many people either forget to, or completely ignore that they need to, remove their makeup at night before they go to bed. Makeup is a breeding ground for bacteria, and when it’s left on your eyelids all night you’re just asking for blepharitis, styes, and dry eyes to creep in. Removing your makeup with an oil-based cleanser means that you’re going to get all of the makeup off (even the waterproof kind!) We recommend using an oil-based remover that contains tea tree essential oil, because the tea tree can help eliminate demodex eyelash mites and ensure that your eyes stay healthy. Simply place 3-5 drops of the remover onto a cotton ball or round and swipe it across your eyelids and lashes, concentrating at the base of the eyelashes until all of the eye makeup is removed.
Wash your Face with Tea Tree Oil Soap
Tea tree essential oil is fantastic for killing demodex eyelash mites and cleansing your skin. We recommend using a tea tree oil soap in the shower, all over your hair, face, and body. You can also leave a bar at the sink. To use, simply lather the bar soap between wet hands for a few seconds and then work it into your skin in circular motions. Keep your eyelids closed tightly! Take care to avoid getting the soap directly into the eyes, as this will burn. Rinse well after you’re finished. You’ll be amazed at how using a soap such as this can help eliminate crusty eyelashes, inflammation of the eyelids and skin, and other skin conditions.
The next step is to use a warm compress eye mask. This will help loosen any crusts on your lashes and help unblock your meibomian glands. The glands in your eyelids can sometimes become blocked with stagnant oil, and adding heat is a great way to release these oils onto your eyelids (think turning hardened butter into olive oil). To use a warm compress eye mask, simply heat it in the microwave on high for 20 seconds and then test the temperature on the inside of your wrist to ensure it’s not too hot. Place the mask over your closed eyelids for 10 minutes, and enjoy the relaxation!
Cleanse your Eyelids with a Hypochlorous Acid Cleanser
Arguably the most important step in this entire process (and our favorite) is cleansing your eyelids with hypochlorous acid.This cleanser is made naturally by the body to fight contaminants such as bacteria and other microorganisms. By using a cleanser such as this, you’re ensuring that your eyelids are staying healthy. We recommend you use this twice per day as maintenance and up to four times per day when dealing with a flare-up. To use, simply spray the solution onto your closed eyelids, rub it in, and let it dry. Alternatively, you can just spray it on and go or even use a cotton ball or round for application. Whichever way works for you is fine, and there’s no need to rinse afterward.
Anti-inflammatory Diet and Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Blepharitis is inflammation, and a great way to combat inflammation is with an anti-inflammatory, alkaline, plant-based diet. We talk about this all the time and you can
read more about the foods you should and should not be eating here. There are a few handy food charts in that blog as well, and filling your diet with these foods is key. Adding in green leafy vegetables, colored fruits and vegetables, and healthy fats means that your body can run properly. Your body can barely live on processed junk food, yet that’s what the majority of Americans are feeding themselves and their families. If you’re having a tough time eating well, at least replace your breakfast with a green smoothie and add omega-3 supplementation into your routine. Omega-3s have been shown to decrease inflammation throughout the body and they contribute to healthier skin, hair, heart, and eyes.
Symptoms of Blepharitis
There are many symptoms of blepharitis and below are a few more common ones you might notice:
Red eyes and lids
Irritated and watery eyes
Crusting at the base of the eyelashes, like dandruff
Burning or stinging eyes and eyelids
Oversensitivity to light
Intermittent blurred vision
Symptoms of blepharitis are often noticed more in the mornings. Blepharitis isn't a vision-debilitating issue, yet it can result in diminished vision, which can go back and forth. The side effects of blepharitis tend to come and go, with times of abatement trailed by flare-ups.
Is there a Cure for Blepharitis?
Yes...and no. Blepharitis is a chronic condition for most people, and this means that you’re going to be dealing with it throughout your life. However, we believe that blepharitis and other conditions such as dry eye have the ability to be cured by getting to the root of the problem. For example, if your blepharitis is caused by demodex and you really center your daily hygiene regimen around using tea tree oil to kill those mites, you’re more likely to find relief. However, this is not necessarily a “cure” because you will still need to practice that hygiene every single day, twice per day, to keep the blepharitis at bay.
What treatments have you tried for your blepharitis? What’s worked for you? Let us know in the comment below!