Washing Eyes With Baby Shampoo | Is Baby Shampoo Safe for Blepharitis?
By Eye Doctors Jenna and Travis Zigler
How To Clean Eyelids With Baby Shampoo | Baby Shampoo for Blepharitis
The short answer to how to clean your eyelids with baby shampoo is...
Don't Do It!
For years, eye doctors told their blepharitis and dry eye patients to clean their eyelids with baby shampoo. It seemed like a simple solution - no tears, right? But actually, using baby shampoo as a cleanser can be harmful for those with these conditions.
Baby shampoo contains multiple synthetic ingredients and detergents that throw off the pH balance of your eyelids, and many of the ingredients can actually lead to eye allergies (including Cocamidopropyl Betaine, PEG-80 Sorbitan Laurate, Phenoxyethanol, and fragrance). It's difficult to even pronounce most of the ingredients! These harsh chemicals can irritate your eyes, which is the exact opposite of the outcome you're looking for.
What is Blepharitis | Blepharitis Definition & Blepharitis Causes
Blepharitis is simply an inflammation of the eyelids, and it often begins as anterior blepharitis. Anterior blepharitis is what we know as those "crusties" that form along your eyelash margin and eyelashes. This crust is made up of dead skin cells and bacteria, and can cause eye irritation and redness if left untreated.
Forgetting to properly clean your eyelids daily can cause bacteria to build up on your eyelids and around your eyes. This contributes to anterior blepharitis and may also exacerbate posterior blepharitis, or meibomian gland dysfunction. Other things that can worsen blepharitis are Demodex eyelash mites. These little parasites live in our eyelash follicles and feed on the oils and bacteria there...yet another reason to keep those eyelids and eyelashes squeaky clean!
Eyelash Dandruff, Crusty Eyelids, And Other Blepharitis Symptoms
So, what symptoms should you be on the lookout for if you suspect you have blepharitis? First of all, we already mentioned the eyelash dandruff that you'll often notice on your eyelashes (often most noticeable in the morning). These flakes, or "scurf", are made of bacteria and dead skin cells and are the hallmark sign of blepharitis. Those with this condition may also notice scratchy, irritated, and even painful eyes due to the blepharitis contributing to dry eye disease, meibomian gland dysfunction, and styes.
Redness of the eyes is also a very common symptom of blepharitis, and the redness occurs due to inflammation of the eyes. Crusty eyelashes may come into contact with the eyeball, or there may be bacteria shedding into the eyes, and this is what causes the redness many people notice. One other symptom we often hear is itchiness. Although we normally think of itchy eyes stemming from allergies, it is very common for those with blepharitis to experience itching due to the flakes gumming up their eyelashes and causing irritation.
What Do I Clean My Eyelids With Instead?
With all of the bacteria that naturally live on our eyelids and skin, it is so important that those who suffer from blepharitis keep their eyelids clean. Eyelid cleansing should be done twice per day, similar to when you brush your teeth.
Thankfully, there are much more effective ways of cleaning than using harsh baby shampoo, and a hypochlorous-based cleanser is a wonderful option. Hypochlorous acid is made naturally in your body by neutrophils, and its function is to fight bacteria and other microorganisms that can cause immune responses and other issues within the body.
When used outside the body, a hypochlorous cleanser effectively cleanses the skin and mucous membranes, making it a great option for use around the eyes. This particular spray is effective yet super gentle, and it requires no scrubbing. If you want to keep it super simple, you can simply spray it on your closed eyelids and go (no need to use a cotton ball or round if you don't have one around!) There's no need to even rinse it off.
Now that you've learned all about how to cleanse your eyelids properly, let's quickly cover a topic we get asked about all the time. What are you supposed to do when you get shampoo in your eye? If you've been using baby shampoo on your eyelids, this won't burn your eyes because it is gentle enough for those little humans in your life. However, if you're in the shower and some of your everyday shampoo in your hair runs down into your eyes, you'll need to take quick action.
First, make sure to run water over your eyelids (and you might even want to open your eyes slightly to really rinse your eyes out). You'll want to continue rinsing your eyes for 2-3 minutes so that no more soap is left in your eyes. Once you've done that, your eyes are going to feel irritated and dry because of the shampoo and the dousing of water, but this is normal and will subside. Use a hypochlorous acid cleanser to ensure that your eyelids are clean and free of shampoo, and then consider using some preservative free artificial tears in the hours following.
5 Alternatives to Baby Shampoo for Blepharitis
1. Wash Face with Tea Tree Oil Soap
The first step for ensuring you keep blepharitis at bay is hygiene. Washing your face is so important, and we recommend a tea tree oil based face wash because tea tree is a great anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial. Once or twice per day, remove all makeup and lather on your face wash, ensuring that you rinse thoroughly (especially if using the product around the eyes).
2. Hypochlorous Acid
After washing your face, cleanse your eyelids with a hypochlorous acid solution. Hypochlorous acid is made naturally by the body to fight microorganisms, and it's a fantastic cleanser for the eyelids and lashes (as we discussed above). It is nontoxic, gentle, and easy 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!
Yes, heat! After you remove your makeup and wash your face, use a warm compress. A warm compress eye mask can provide a ton of symptom relief when used daily, and it can be beneficial for helping heat up the oil within the meibomian glands. When this oil is hardened and stagnant, the glands can begin to atrophy (which we don't want). A warm compress may help loosen the oil and get it flowing normally when used consistently. If nothing else, it will usually provide some symptom relief!
4. BlephEx or NuLids
When bacteria accumulate, they begin to form biofilm. Biofilm is a subtance that acts like a fortress for bacteria, protecting it from anything trying to remove it. It is hard to penetrate, so using NuLids at home or having BlephEx done in your doctor's office can help. These devices effectively remove biofilm and allow you to keep your eyelids properly clean and clear of the biofilm and bacteria that can accumulate. NuLids is easy to use and takes only 60 seconds per day. If that's not something you're comfortable with, ask your doctor about BlephEx.
5. Green Smoothies
Are you surprised we saved this one for last? We talk so much about the importance of nutrition, and this tip could easily be number one. Simply replace your inflammatory breakfast with a green smoothie. If you're eating sugary cereals, dairy, pastries, bacon, etc then switching up your breakfast could make a huge impact! We want you to be getting tons of hydration and tons of antioxidants first thing in the morning. By having a simple green smoothie, you can ensure that you're flooding your body with the nutrients it needs to fight inflammation that could be contributing to blepharitis. Need smoothie ideas? Check out this article for ideas.
FAQs about Blepharitis - Baby Shampoo
Is it safe to wash eyes with baby shampoo?
We highly recommend avoiding baby shampoo when attempting to treat blepharitis. Baby shampoo contains many chemicals which have the potential to be irritating for the eyes and eyelids, and it's best to choose an eyelid cleanser specifically formulated for use around the eyes. Our favorite is hypochlorous acid because it is made naturally by the body and is gentle on both the delicate skin of the eyelids and the eyes themselves.
What triggers blepharitis?
Blepharitis is usually caused by either staph bacteria or scalp dandruff, and bacteria is the most common cause of anterior blepharitis. Posterior blepharitis, also known as meibomian gland dysfunction (MGD) occurs when the oils within the meibomian glands become stagnant and hardened. This prevents free-flowing oil from joining the tear film as it should, and can cause atrophy of the glands. While there is no cure for blepharitis, it can be well managed.
How do you use baby shampoo on a stye?
The best answer is, you don't! We never recommend using baby shampoo on a stye because it contains too many chemicals that could be problematic and cause allergic reactions. This is only going to worsen the issue. If you're dealing with a stye, first of all you'll want to use a warm compress up to four times daily, directly over that stye. Heating up the area can help it drain naturally. Then, ensure that you're cleaning the area with a hypochlorous acid cleanser up to four times per day (use it after the warm compress). If you find that the stye is worsening or not improving, call your doctor as soon as possible.
Does baby shampoo help eye infections?
There is nothing in baby shampoo that is going to be helpful for an eye infection. It is not intended to be used for eye infections. If you believe you have an eye infection, make sure to call your eye doctor and have it properly diagnosed.