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What is blepharitis?

Blepharitis is inflammation of one or both eyelids. Your eyelid, eyelashes, oil glands, or whites of the eye may be affected.

What causes blepharitis?

  • Seborrheic dermatitis (red, scaly, itchy skin)
  • Clogged oil glands
  • Infection on your eyelid caused by bacteria
  • Acne rosacea

What are the signs and symptoms of blepharitis?

  • Burning and itching
  • Redness of your eyelid or the whites of your eye
  • Watery or dry eye
  • Feeling like there is something in your eye
  • Decreased vision or sensitivity to light

How is blepharitis diagnosed?

  • A visual acuity test is used to check your vision and eye movements.
  • A sample of skin or drainage may be sent to a lab to find the cause of your infection.
  • A slit-lamp test is used to examine your eye with a microscope.

How is blepharitis treated?

Medicines can help decrease pain and swelling, or treat an infection.

How can I manage my symptoms?

Always wash your hands with soap and water before and after eye care:

  • Use artificial tears twice a day if you have dry eye.
  • Apply a warm compress for 10 minutes once a day to loosen crusts and to decrease itching and burning.
  • Gently scrub your upper and lower eyelid with 2 to 3 drops of baby shampoo in ½ cup warm water 2 times a day. This will help open your clogged oil glands and remove pus or other material stuck to your eyelid.
  • Massage your upper and lower eyelid in small circles for 5 seconds to loosen oil plugs and to decrease inflammation.
  • Do not wear contact lenses or eye makeup until your eye has healed.

When should I contact my healthcare provider?

  • Your vision changes.
  • Your signs and symptoms get worse, even after treatment.
  • Your signs and symptoms return.
  • You have a lump on your eyelid.
  • You have a pus-filled sore on your eyelid.
  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.

When should I seek immediate care or call 911?

  • You have severe pain.
  • You have vision loss.

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your healthcare providers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment. The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

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Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.

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Symptoms and treatments

Mayo Clinic Reference