A common and often persistent condition blepharitis (blef-uh-RYE-tus) refers to a bacterial infestation of the eyelashes. Blepharitis usually results from poor eyelid hygiene a low-grade bacterial infection and/or irregular functioning of the oil gland. It rarely results in long-term damage to vision but it can cause both ingrown and the loss of eyelashes. The ingrown eyelashes cause further irritation to the eye area. In severe cases there is a loss of pigment in the eyelashes causing them to turn white or grey.
People who experience skin conditions including dandruff,oily skin, seborrheic dermatitis, eczema, rosacea or psoriasis are more susceptible to blepharitis. People exposed to chemical fumes,smog,smoke and other irritants or those reacting to medication might experience chronic cases of blepharitis.
Although more often seen in adults it does affect children as well. Like dandruff blepharitis tends to be a chronic condition without a cure however treatment does exist to manage blepharitis and to improve eyelid hygiene.
There are two main types of blepharitis; seborrheic and staphylococcal. Gland dysfunction brought on by hormones one’s general health or lack thereof stress and poor nutrition are common causes of seborrheic blepharitis. Dandruff of the scalp and other skin conditions usually accompany it. The second type is staphylococcal blepharitis caused by the staphylococcus bacteria. This condition can result in the loss of eyelashes enlarged blood vessels around the lids and crusting around the eyes
Signs and Symptoms
The most common side effects of blepharitis are styes and chalazia. These result when the bacterial debris clogs the pores of the eyelids and cause the glandular secretions to back up. Other common symptoms include redness around the edge of the eyelids and/or scaly as well as crusty matter on the eyelids or lashes especially noticeable upon waking. People also experience swollen eyes greasy flakes or scales at the base of the eyelashes or on the eyelids loss of or ingrown eyelashes and excessive tearing. Symptoms include feeling that something is in the eye when blinking itching or burning eyes sensitivity to light and/or irritation of the skin at the edges of the eyelids.
Treatment of blepharitis often requires a program of eyelid hygiene including eyelid cleansing at specific intervals. Regular washing of your hands face and scalp with soap will help control mild cases. For cases that are stubborn warm compresses and eyelid scrubs are recommended. Make warm compresses by running a facecloth under warm water. Gently run the facecloth along the base of your lashes drawing the cloth out towards the end of the lashes on both the top and bottom lids. Rinse the cloth before you rub the other eye. Special pads are available for eyelid scrubs that decrease the amount of debris flaking skin and eyelid redness. Use warm compresses and eyelid scrubs two to three times a day. In some cases however it might take up to eight weeks before there is an improvement. Ongoing treatment is often necessary to control the condition. Your optometrist might also prescribe an antibiotic depending on the severity of the condition. Avoid wearing makeup and replace your makeup during flare-ups of blepharitis. This is important as bacteria can survive in makeup cases on pencils and especially on mascara. If you wear contact lenses you should not wear them while you have symptoms.