What is Blepharitis?
Blepharitis is an inflammatory condition that affects the eyelids. It most often affects the area of the eyelids in which your eyelashes grow and usually affects both of your eyelids.
It typically occurs when the very small oil glands situated at the base of a persons eyelashes get clogged. This then leads to the red and irritated eyes characteristic of the condition.
The condition is often chronic making it very difficult to fully treat but although it is often uncomfortable and unsightly, it is rarely serious. Blepharitis is not contagious and does not lead to permanent eyesight damage.
Symptoms of Blepharitis
Common symptoms of blepharitis include the following:
- Red eyes
- Watery eyes
- Stinging or burning to the eyes or a gritty sensation
- Itching to the eyelids
- Swollen and red eyelids
- Crusty eyelashes when you wake up
- The eyelids sticking together
- Flaking skin in the areas around your eyes
- Blinking frequently
- Light sensitivity
- Eyelash loss or abnormal growth
Causes of Blepharitis
Experts are not certain exactly what causes blepharitis but believe is is associated with the following factors:
- Some type of bacterial infection.
- Malfunctioning or logged oil glands in the eyelids.
- Seborrheic dermatitis
- Rosacea – a chronic skin condition that causes facial redness.
- Eyelash lice or mites.
- Allergic reactions including allergies to makeup, eye medication and contact lens solution.
Home care and remedies may be sufficient in many cases. Keeping the eyes clean or using a warm compress is often the first recommended step. However if the condition does not improve , doctors may prescribe some type of medication. These include antibiotics, steroid eye drops for inflammation and treatment for any underlying condition such as rosacea or seborrheic dermatitis.
Unfortunately, blepharitis is often a chronic complaint and does not disappear completely. It may require daily attention and making sure that you keep the eyelids clean.
As well as making sure that your eyelids are clean, there are a number of effective home remedies that can help ease your symptoms.
Home Remedies for Blepharitis
1) Keep your Eyelids Clean
Making sure that your eyelids are very clean is an essential first step for anyone dealing with blepharitis. Even after your symptoms have eased, it is important that you maintain eyelid hygiene to prevent a recurrence.
A warm compress is an excellent and extremely effective home treatment for blepharitis. This simple remedy can help to unclog the pores in the eyelid oil glands and loosen the debris around the eyes and eyelashes. The warmth given of by the compress also stimulates blood circulation helping the area to heal.
- Place a washcloth into some warm water then wring out the excess liquid.
- Making sure your eye is closed, simply place the compress over your eyelid for 5 minutes or so.
- Repeat several times on both eyes.
- Use a clean flannel or cloth to clean any excess debris.
- Use a clean washcloth each time and repeat each day.
Scrub the Eyelids with Baby Shampoo
Scrubbing the eyelids is another effective way to keep the lids clean and eliminate oil and debris.
- Add a few drops of your baby shampoo to a cup of clean warm water.
- Dip a cotton ball in the mixture and use it to scrub the eyelashes very carefully.
- Rinse the eyes with clean water and pat them dry with a towel.
- Repeat once or twice a day.
2) Tea Tree Essential Oil
Tea tree essential oil which has so many topical uses may also be the perfect natural remedy for blepharitis especially if it is caused by mites. As well as treating the underlying causes of the condition, tea tree essential oil has soothing, anti-inflammatory properties that can soothe itching and ease inflammation.
A Korean study published in 2012 found that tea tree oil was an effective remedy for blepharitis resulting from demodex mites. It helped to eliminate the mites and also significantly improved the symptoms of the condition. (1)
It is important to dilute your tea tree oil in a carrier oil before applying it to the skin or eye lashes.
- Add a few drops of tea tree essential oil to a tablespoon of virgin coconut oil.
- Take a cotton swab and dip it into the solution.
- Keep your eyes closed and wipe the swab gently over the base of the eyelashes.
- Do not open your eyes for at least 5 minutes while the oil is working.
- Repeat the treatment once or twice each day.
3) Omega-3 Fatty Acid
There is some evidence that blepharitis that blepharitis can be helped by consuming omega-3 fatty acids. This is especially true if your condition is caused by rosacea or seborrheic dermatitis.
According to research omega-3 acids help boost the function of glands called the meibomian glands responsible for eye lubrication and comfort.
A study published in 2013 found that these fatty acids had a significant positive effect on various eye complaints including blepharitis and dry eye syndrome. (2)
Food with a high omega-6 acid content include fish like tuna, salmon, trout and mackerel, various nuts and seeds. If you find it difficult to get omega-6 into your diet, consider taking a supplement instead.
4) Castor Oil
Castor oil also has the potential to treat blepharitis in the comfort of your home. It contains a compound called ricinoleic acid which has excellent anti-inflammatory properties. It can help ease many of the symptoms associated with the condition including burning, irritation, itching and swelling.
- After washing your eyes, clean them further with a warm compress.
- Carefully apply some organic castor oil to your eyelids and eyelashes with a cotton swab.
- Perform this treatment each evening before bed then rinse the oil off the following morning.
5) Aloe Vera
Aloe vera is another popular home remedy for a variety of skin conditions. It has anti-inflammatory and moisturizing actions that can help keep the eyelids free of crust and debris. As well as keeping the eyelids clean and moist it can help relieve many of the symptoms of blepharitis such as swelling and itching.
- Cut a fresh aloe leaf and extract its gel.
- Gently apply it to your eyelids.
- Let it sit in place for around 10 minutes then rinse off with clean, warm water.
- Repeat once or twice each day for as long as necessary.
Neem also known as Indian lilac is an excellent remedy for dandruff and seborrheic dermatitis which can be factors leading to blepharitis.
Neem has excellent anti-fungal properties as well as antibacterial actions that can help treat seborrheic dermatitis. As well as treating the root of the condition, neem can help relieve many of the symptoms of blepharitis including itching, redness and swelling.
- Boil up a good handful of leaves in 3 or 4 cups of water.
- Remove from the heat, allow it to cool and strain it.
- Rinse your hair with the solution and apply a little to your eyelids with a cotton swab.
7) Coconut Oil
Virgin coconut oil is another excellent option when it comes to treating blepharitis at home. It is brimming with healthy, nutritious properties including anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial actions. It is used for various chronic skin complaints including rosacea, psoriasis and dermatitis and may be equally effective in treating the symptoms of blepharitis.
- Make sure that you are using good quality extra virgin coconut oil and warm it up before using it.
- Dip a cotton ball in your coconut oil and apply it to your eyelids.
- Let it sit in place for at least 15 minutes before rinsing it away.
- Repeat daily.
8) Petroleum Jelly
If your condition is caused by mites or lice then petroleum jelly is an unusual but potentially effective remedy. It can help get rid of mites by effectively suffocating and destroying them.
- Apply a little pure petroleum jelly to your eyelashes.
- Let it sit for about 20 minutes.
- Thoroughly rinse it off with warm water.
- Repeat every other day.