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Blepharitis (Eyelid Inflammation) – Symptoms, Causes, And Natural Treatments To Control The Symptoms

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Blepharitis (Eyelid Inflammation) – Symptoms, Causes, And Natural Treatments To Control The Symptoms October 23, 2018

According to a survey in the US in 2009, ophthalmologists and optometrists reported observing symptoms of blepharitis in 37% and 47% of their patients respectively (1).

Blepharitis results in the inflammation of your eyelids and can be triggered by a variety of factors. If that new eyeliner you put on and went to bed with has given you swollen eyelids the next morning, chances are that you have most probably developed blepharitis. It is a chronic condition that cannot be cured, but its symptoms can be managed rather easily. This article lists a few easy yet effective home remedies that can help control the symptoms of blepharitis. Read on for more information.

Table Of Contents

What Is Blepharitis?

Blepharitis is a medical condition that causes your eyelids to become inflamed. It is commonly referred to as eyelid inflammation. Blepharitis usually affects the part of the eyelids from where the eyelashes grow. It mostly affects both the eyelids.

Blepharitis is a chronic condition and is difficult to treat. However, it almost never causes permanent damage to your eyesight and is not contagious.

Blepharitis may be divided into the following types depending on where the inflammation is occurring.

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Types Of Blepharitis

Blepharitis is mainly divided into three types. They are:

  • Anterior Blepharitis – It is usually caused by a reaction to the Staphylococcus bacteria or due to a skin condition called seborrhoeic dermatitis. It results in the inflammation of the skin around the base of your lashes. When the inflammation only occurs in the outer corner of your eyelid, it is called as angular blepharitis.
  • Posterior Blepharitis – It occurs due to a problem with the meibomian gland and results in its inflammation. This gland is found along the margin of your eyelid and behind the base of your lashes.
  • Mixed Blepharitis – This is the most common type that is caused by a combination of both anterior and posterior blepharitis.

Let’s take a look at the signs and symptoms.

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Signs And Symptoms

The common signs and symptoms associated with blepharitis are:

  • Red and watery eyes
  • Puffy, swollen eyelids
  • A burning/stinging sensation in the eyes
  • Greasy-looking and scaly eyelids (squamous blepharitis)
  • Itchy eyelids
  • Flaky skin around the eyelids
  • Crusty eyelashes, especially on waking up
  • Sticky eyelids
  • Frequent blinking
  • Sensitivity to bright lights
  • Abnormally growing eyelashes
  • Loss of lashes

While the exact cause of blepharitis is not yet detected, it could be associated with one or more factors listed below,

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Causes And Risk Factors For Blepharitis

The factors believed to be contributing to the development of blepharitis are:

  • Seborrheic dermatitis – Dandruff of the scalp and/or eyebrows
  • Bacterial infections
  • Clogged or dysfunctioning oil glands in the eyelids
  • Rosacea – An inflammatory skin condition
  • Allergies caused by a reaction to eye medications, makeup, or contact lens solutions
  • Mites such as the Demodex mite or lice in the lashes

Factors that can put an individual at a higher risk of developing blepharitis are:

  • Age – Those above 50 years of age are more likely to develop blepharitis.
  • Oily skin
  • Dry eyes
  • Skin conditions like acne rosacea and seborrheic dermatitis

If you suspect that you may have developed blepharitis, consult a doctor to get yourself diagnosed.

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Diagnosis

Your doctor may carry out the following tests/procedures to confirm or rule out blepharitis:

  • Examination of your eyelids to look for symptoms associated with blepharitis. Your doctor may use a slit lamp for this.
  • Testing swabs from your eyelids to look for infections.

Many a time, one may be diagnosed with a stye rather than blepharitis. These two conditions are often confused with each other by many. Here are the major differences between a stye and blepharitis.

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Stye Vs. Blepharitis

Stye

  • It is an inflamed lump on the inner or outer eyelid.
  • It is caused by an infected eyelash follicle.
  • It may be red or tender to touch with a lump inside.
  • It usually occurs in one eye at a time.
  • A stye is contagious.
  • Styes go away on their own, even without treatment.

Blepharitis

  • It causes inflammation of your eyelids.
  • It can be caused by infections, allergic reaction, and even by underlying conditions like rosacea and dandruff.
  • It causes your eyelids to look red and swollen.
  • It usually affects both the eyelids.
  • Blepharitis is not a contagious condition.
  • It is chronic.

Let us now look at the treatment options available for blepharitis. As you already know, blepharitis is a chronic condition that cannot be cured. Hence, its treatment mainly aims at controlling its symptoms. Here is a list of home remedies that can help control the symptoms associated with blepharitis to a large extent.

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How To Control The Symptoms Of Blepharitis Naturally

  1. Essential Oils
  2. Warm Compress
  3. Baking Soda
  4. Coconut Oil
  5. Baby Shampoo Wash
  6. Fish Oil
  7. Castor Oil
  8. Apple Cider Vinegar
  9. Flax Seeds
  10. Green Tea Bags
  11. Aloe Vera Juice
  12. Manuka Honey

Home Remedies To Control The Symptoms Of Blepharitis

1. Essential Oils

a. Tea Tree Oil

Tea Tree Oil Pinit

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You Will Need
  • 1 drop of tea tree oil
  • A clean washcloth
  • Warm (almost hot) water
What You Have To Do
  1. Soak a clean washcloth in a bowl of warm (nearly hot) water.
  2. Wring out the excess water.
  3. Put a drop of tea tree oil on the wet towel and allow it to be absorbed completely.
  4. Wipe the outer and inner corners of your eyelids with the warm towel gently.
  5. Your eyes must be closed throughout the process.
  6. Leave it on if you are only experiencing minimal burning
  7. else wash the solution off after a minute or so.
How Often You Should Do This

Do this once daily until your symptoms subside.

Why This Works

Tea tree oil has antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties that help in alleviating infections and inflammation that surfaces with blepharitis (2).

Caution

Avoid tea tree oil if you are allergic to it.

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2. Warm Compress

Warm Compress Pinit

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You Will Need
  • A clean washcloth
  • Warm (almost hot) water
What You Have To Do
  1. Soak a clean washcloth in some warm water.
  2. Wring out the excess water and place the washcloth over closed eyelids.
  3. Allow it to work for 5 to 7 minutes and remove.
  4. Clean the margins of your eyelids using the washcloth and your index finger.
How Often You Should Do This

Do this 1 to 2 times daily.

Why This Works

Warm compresses help in loosening the eyelid debris and oils while also dilating your glands that may be clogged (3).

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3. Baking Soda

Baking Soda Pinit

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You Will Need
  • 1 teaspoon of baking soda
  • 500 mL of boiled water
  • Cotton swabs
What You Have To Do
  1. Add a teaspoon of sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) to 500 mL of boiled water.
  2. Allow the mixture to cool.
  3. Soak a cotton swab in the baking soda mixture and swipe over closed eyelids.
  4. Discard the swab.
  5. Take a new cotton swab and dip it into the mixture.
  6. Look up and wipe the lower lid gently with the swab and discard it.
  7. Take another swab, and while looking down, wipe the upper lid gently.
  8. Discard the swab.
  9. If there is any more crusting, repeat the process until you get the desired results.
How Often You Should Do This

Do this whenever you notice crusting or any discharge from your eyes. You can also follow this remedy before the installation of eye drops.

Why This Works

The antiseptic nature of baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) can help in disinfecting your eyes and can prevent an infection from spreading (4).

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4. Coconut Oil

Coconut Oil Pinit

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You Will Need
  • 1 tablespoon of cold-pressed coconut oil
  • Cotton swabs
What You Have To Do
  1. Take a cotton swab and dip it into cold-pressed coconut oil.
  2. Swipe the cotton swab gently over closed eyelids.
  3. Leave it on for at least 15 minutes before rinsing it off with water.
How Often You Should Do This

Do this 1 to 2 times daily.

Why This Works

Coconut oil possesses powerful anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties that can work wonders in relieving infections and alleviating the inflammatory symptoms of blepharitis (5), (6). It can also be used as a rewetting agent for dry eyes (7).

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5. Baby Shampoo Wash

Baby Shampoo Wash Pinit

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You Will Need
  • 1 teaspoon of baby shampoo or any mild soap prescribed by your physician
  • ¼ cup of distilled water
  • Cotton swabs
What You Have To Do
  1. Add a teaspoon of baby shampoo or any mild liquid soap prescribed by your physician to one-fourth cup of distilled water.
  2. Mix well and dip a cotton swab into the mixture.
  3. Scrub one of your closed eyelids back and forth gently with the swab.
  4. Discard the swab. Using a new swab, repeat the process for the other eyelid.
  5. Rinse both your eyelids with water.
How Often You Should Do This

Do this 1 to 2 times daily to prevent the recurrence of the symptoms.

Why This Works

Many people suffering from blepharitis have found relief from crusting and irritation by using a mild detergent like baby shampoo and other commercial eyelid scrubs for cleansing (8).

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6. Fish Oil

Fish Oil Pinit

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You Will Need

500-1000 mg of fish oil

What You Have To Do
  1. Consume 500 to 1000 mg of fish oil daily. Consult a doctor before taking these supplements.
How Often You Should Do This

Take fish oil supplements daily for at least a couple of months to see an improvement.

Why This Works

One of the main causes of blepharitis is a dysfunctional meibomian gland. Supplementation with omega-3 fatty acids can help reduce the inflammation of the meibomian gland by improving the tear stability (9).

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7. Castor Oil

Castor Oil Pinit

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You Will Need
  • 1 tablespoon of cold-pressed castor oil
  • Cotton swabs
What You Have To Do
  1. Dip a cotton swab into some cold-pressed castor oil.
  2. Wipe the swab gently over your closed eyelid.
  3. Discard the cotton swab.
  4. Repeat the procedure for the other eyelid with a new cotton swab.
  5. Leave the oil on for 15 to 20 minutes.
  6. Rinse your eyelids with water.
How Often You Should Do This

Do this 1 to 2 times daily.

Why This Works

Castor oil can help to reduce dysfunction of the meibomian gland by improving the tear stability with its anti-inflammatory and lubricating properties (10). This, in turn, also helps manage the symptoms of blepharitis.

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8. Apple Cider Vinegar

Apple Cider Vinegar Pinit

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You Will Need
  • 1 tablespoon of raw apple cider vinegar
  • 1 glass of warm water
  • A cotton swab
What You Have To Do
  1. Add a tablespoon of raw apple cider vinegar to a glass of warm water.
  2. Mix well and soak a cotton swab in the solution.
  3. Wipe your closed eyelids gently with the swab.
  4. Discard the used swab.
  5. Using a new cotton swab, repeat the procedure for the other eyelid.
  6. Leave the mixture on for 15 to 20 minutes before washing it off with water.
How Often You Should Do This

Do this at least once daily.

Why This Works

The anti-inflammatory properties of apple cider vinegar can help reduce the redness and swelling associated with blepharitis. And the antimicrobial activities of ACV can fight the infection-causing bacteria in your eyes, if any (11).

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9. Flax Seeds

Flax Seeds Pinit

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You Will Need
  • 1 teaspoon of ground flax seeds
  • 1 glass of warm milk
What You Have To Do
  1. Add a teaspoon of ground flax seeds to a glass of warm milk.
  2. Mix well and drink the mixture.
  3. Alternatively, you can also take flaxseed oil supplements after consulting your doctor.
How Often You Should Do This

Consume this mixture once daily.

Why This Works

Like fish oil, flax seeds are also a rich source of the anti-inflammatory omega-3s. They can help reduce the ocular inflammation that surfaces with blepharitis (12).

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10. Green Tea Bags

Green Tea Bags Pinit

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You Will Need

2 used green tea bags

What You Have To Do
  1. Take two used green tea bags and refrigerate them.
  2. Place the cold green tea bags over your closed eyelids.
  3. Leave them on for 15 to 20 minutes.
  4. Take them off and rinse your eyes with plain water.
How Often You Should Do This

Do this 1 to 2 times daily.

Why This Works

Green tea contains anti-inflammatory polyphenols that can help alleviate the redness and puffiness of your eyelids affected by blepharitis (13).

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11. Aloe Vera Juice

Aloe Vera Juice Pinit

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You Will Need
  • 1-2 tablespoons of aloe gel
  • 1 tablespoon of water
  • Cotton swabs
What You Have To Do
  1. Blend one to two tablespoons of aloe gel with a little water.
  2. Dip a cotton swab into this juice and wipe it gently over your closed eyelids.
  3. Discard the swab.
  4. Repeat the procedure with the other eyelid using a new swab.
  5. Allow the gel to work on your eyelids for 15-20 minutes.
  6. Rinse your eyes with water.
How Often You Should Do This

Apply aloe juice topically 1 to 2 times daily.

Why This Works

Aloe vera contains multiple pharmacologically active compounds that exhibit anti-inflammatory properties. These properties can help reduce the inflammation and irritation in your eyes (14).

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12. Manuka Honey

Manuka Honey Pinit

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You Will Need
  • 1 teaspoon of manuka honey
  • 1 teaspoon of distilled water
  • Cotton swabs
What You Have To Do
  1. Mix a teaspoon of manuka honey with a teaspoon of distilled water.
  2. Dip a cotton swab into this mixture and apply it gently over closed eyelids.
  3. Allow the mixture to work for at least 20 minutes before rinsing it off.
How Often You Should Do This

Do this twice daily for best results.

Why This Works

The anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties of manuka honey make it the best option for treating the irritating symptoms and microbial infections associated with blepharitis (15).

With blepharitis, there is always a risk of recurrence even after you have successfully managed its symptoms with these remedies. Hence, you should follow certain prevention tips.

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Prevention Tips

  • Keep your eyelids clean.
  • Maintain personal hygiene.
  • Remove all makeup, including eye makeup, before bedtime.
  • Don’t use eyeliner inside your lashes.
  • If you are suffering from blepharitis, avoid using eye makeup until you recover from it.
  • Avoid using eye makeup products that you used earlier as they might be contaminated.

Even if blepharitis is not curable, it is much easier to manage as compared to many other chronic conditions. All you have to do is keep a check on your hygiene – as most of the times, blepharitis flares up and leads to further complications like conjunctivitis (pink eye) or an infectious stye or chalazion due to unhygienic conditions. It is better to seek your doctor’s advice while treating any medical condition. And use these home remedies in conjunction with the prescribed medical treatments.

For questions and feedback, leave a comment in the box below.

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Expert’s Answers For Readers’ Questions

How long does blepharitis last?

Blepharitis is a chronic condition, and its symptoms can last for many years if left untreated. The severity of blepharitis may fluctuate over time.

What are the best eye drops for blepharitis?

Oily teardrops are especially useful in treating blepharitis that is causing your tears to evaporate quickly. Some doctors may also prescribe topical cyclosporine for relief.

Is it safe to put Vaseline on your eyelids?

Yes, Vaseline is safe to be applied topically on your eyelids because it cannot dissolve in your eyes. It can help in keeping your eyelids moisturized and also in getting rid of mites and lice in your lashes.

What antibiotics treat blepharitis?

Severe cases of blepharitis may need a topical application of antibiotics like Bacitracin and Erythromycin ointments. Scrubbing with OCuSOFT lid scrub is also a great way to manage symptoms of blepharitis that occur due to a bacterial infection.

When to see a doctor for blepharitis?/p>

If you do not see an improvement in your condition despite maintaining personal hygiene and cleansing your eyelids regularly, it is best to consult a doctor for further medical intervention.

How to clean the eyelids affected by blepharitis?

You must clean your eyelids in the following manner:
• Wash your hands with a disinfectant.
• Soak a clean washcloth in warm (nearly hot) water.
• Wring out the excess water and place the washcloth over closed eyelids for 5 to 10 minutes.
• Wipe the inner margin of your eyelids gently with the washcloth before opening your eyes.

References

  1. Blepharitis in the United States 2009: a survey-based perspective on prevalence and treatment.” The Ocular Surface, US National Library of Medicine
  2. The use of tea tree oil in treating blepharitis and meibomian gland dysfunction” Oman Journal Of Ophthalmology, US National Library of Medicine
  3. Blepharitis” StatPearls, US National Library of Medicine
  4. How to clean eyelids” Community Eye Health. US National Library of Medicine
  5. Anti-inflammatory, analgesic, and antipyretic activities of virgin coconut oil” Pharmaceutical Biology, US National Library of Medicine
  6. Comparison of antibacterial efficacy of coconut oil and chlorhexidine on Streptococcus mutans: An in vivo study” Journal Of International Society Of Preventive & Community Dentistry, US National Library of Medicine
  7. A Pilot Study: The Efficacy of Virgin Coconut Oil as Ocular Rewetting Agent on Rabbit Eyes” Evidence-based Complementary And Alternative Medicine, US National Library of Medicine
  8. A comparative study of eyelid cleaning regimens in chronic blepharitis” CLAO Journal, US National Library of Medicine
  9. A randomized, double-masked study to evaluate the effect of omega-3 fatty acids supplementation in meibomian gland dysfunction” Clinical Interventions in Aging, US National Library of Medicine
  10. Low-concentration homogenized castor oil eye drops for noninflamed obstructive meibomian gland dysfunction” Ophthalmology, US National Library of Medicine
  11. Antimicrobial activity of apple cider vinegar against Escherichia coli, Staphylococcus aureus and Candida albicans; downregulating cytokine and microbial protein expression” Scientific Reports, US National Library of Medicine
  12. The Role of Omega-3 Dietary Supplementation in Blepharitis and Meibomian Gland Dysfunction (An AOS Thesis)” Transactions of the American Ophthalmological Society, US National Library of Medicine
  13. Green tea polyphenols as an anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory agent for cardiovascular protection” Cardiovascular & Hematological Disorders-Drug Targets, US National Library of Medicine
  14. Aloe vera extract activity on human corneal cells” Pharmaceutical Biology, US National Library of Medicine
  15. Preclinical development of MGO Manuka Honey microemulsion for blepharitis management” BMJ Open Ophthalmology, US National Library of Medicine
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