Blepharitis and Blepharoconjunctivitis

What is blepharitis?

Blepharitis is inflammation or swelling of the edge of the eyelid. It is usually caused because the oil glands in the eyelid produce oil that is thicker than normal that causes the glands to become blocked. It can cause the eyelid redness and tearing. Blepharitis is a common cause of styes.

If the redness includes the white part of the eye (the conjunctiva), the condition is known as blepharoconjunctivitis. Symptoms include burning or irritation of the eyes.

Is blepharitis contagious?

No, it is not.

What is the treatment for blepharitis and blepharoconjunctivitis?

  • Warm compresses: Hold a warm compress over closed eyelids for ten minutes. This heats the skin and softens the oil and debris along the eyelid margins. 
  • Lid scrubs: Baby shampoo scrubs or an eyelid scrub can help soothe the inflamed area. Gently scrub the eyelid margins with a cotton ball or washcloth and baby shampoo. Aim for the base of the eyelashes. Scrubbing the eyelids lowers the amount of bacteria present and removes old skin and debris. 
  • Occasional antibiotic: Occasionally, there is an infection associated which may require an oral or topical antibiotic.

Warm compresses and eyelid scrubs can be repeated 1 to 2 times per day to prevent styes and to control blepharitis. 

What is the long-term outlook?

Blepharitis usually does not cause serious vision problems. Sometimes blepharoconjunctivitis can spread to involve the cornea, the clear window of the eye, leading to scarring and vision loss. Make sure to visit an eye doctor if you are concerned about any eye condition.