Are you dealing with sore, red eyelids and crustiness on your eyelashes? Do your eyes feel dry or irritated?
If this sounds like you, you may be dealing with blepharitis. In this article, we’re going to dive into what this condition is, what causes it, and what you can do to deal with it.
What is Blepharitis?
Blepharitis is an inflammation of the eyelids. It causes irritation, redness, dryness, scale-like particles on the lashes, and often excessive tearing. This condition can be uncomfortable and bothersome. Fortunately there are several treatments available to help alleviate symptoms.
What Causes Blepharitis?
You may be wondering what causes blepharitis. In most cases it's due to a bacterial infection. However, certain allergic reactions and skin conditions (such as rosacea) can also lead to blepharitis.
There are two main forms of blepharitis - anterior and posterior. Anterior blepharitis is most commonly seen as flakiness on the eyelashes. Posterior blepharitis affects the meibomian glands within the eyelids. Meibomian gland dysfunction is another term for posterior blepharitis, and this condition may lead to the atrophy of the oil-producing glands within the eyelids if it is not properly treated.
Remedies for Blepharitis
Below we’re going to highlight some of the most effective strategies for managing blepharitis.
Clean Your Eyelids
Keeping the eyelids clean is one of the best ways to support your eyelid health. You can do this a few different ways, depending on your preference and what your doctor recommends.
Hypochlorous acid is our first recommendation. We love hypochlorous acid cleansers because our bodies make this substance naturally, so it is a very natural product and generally safe for everyone to use (even babies!). It’s also incredibly easy to use. Simply spray the solution onto a cotton ball or round and apply to your closed eyelids. Concentrate the product at the base of your eyelashes. The cleanser does not need to be rinsed off, and it's recommended to do this twice per day (morning and evening is great).
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Another option is to use an eyelid wipe. These are a favorite of ours, and they can really help to control any of the extra gunk on your lashes. Simply take the pre-moistened wipe out of the package, unfold it, and concentrate the wipe at the base of the lashes.
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Heat Your Eyelids
A very effective strategy for symptom relief of blepharitis is the use of warm compresses. You can purchase a specific warm compress, such as this one. If it's easy and quick to use, you're more likely to use it!
Here is how we recommend using a microwavable eye mask:
- Microwave for 10-20 seconds until warm to the touch (test on your wrist).
- Place over your closed eyelids for 10-20 minutes.
- Relax and enjoy!
- Gently massage the area to loosen up any debris.
- Follow your warm compress with a hypochlorous acid eyelid cleanser to remove any extra contaminants.
If you suffer from rosacea, you may find that cool compresses are more comforting than warm. If warm compresses do not help with your symptoms, you can skip this step or ask your doctor for other recommendations.
Makeup is something you should avoid when you have eyelid inflammation. But if you need to take it off the best remover to use is an eyelid wipe or an oil-based eye makeup remover. These are both gentle enough on your eyelids and help keep your eyelids feeling clean.
After removing your makeup, it's a great idea to also make sure your face is clean as well.
If you’re someone who struggles with blepharitis, you may want to reduce the amount of makeup you wear. Makeup can interfere with good eyelid hygiene but, if you choose to wear it, make sure you’re completely removing it.
We love to talk about nutrition and, in this case, it can make a big difference! Packing your diet full of antioxidants and healthy fats will help support your meibomian glands and the health of your eyes.
We recommend beginning every day with a full glass or bottle of water. This jumpstarts your metabolism, and it’s going to flood your body with hydration necessary for eye and meibomian gland health.
After you’ve had your water, enjoy a green smoothie for breakfast. If you’re short on time, you can place everything in your blender the night before and blend in the morning. Here’s a simple recipe to get you started:
- 1-2 Cups filtered water and/or unsweetened almond milk
- 1 Cup/handful of spinach
- ½ Cup Frozen blueberries
- ½ avocado
- 1 Scoop of protein powder
Lastly for nutrition, it’s important to make sure you’re consuming healthy omega-3 fatty acids. These fats support the health of your meibomian glands, the oil within them, and ultimately, the eyes in general. If you’re not someone who eats a ton of fish, we recommend supplementing with this omega-3 supplement.
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When to see your doctor
An eye doctor’s job is to properly diagnose and treat your condition, so they’re honestly the best place to start. If you’re feeling symptoms of blepharitis and dryness, visit your eye doctor.
They have special equipment that can help define exactly what you're dealing with. Application of a medicated eye drop may be needed, and you may also benefit from one of the many procedures now available for blepharitis and dry eye management.
It’s always best to consult your eye doctor before beginning any regimen, so that they can give you a proper diagnosis and direction.
Drs. Travis and Jenna Zigler, President and VP of Eye Believe Foundation
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