Blepharitis can be both triggered and exacerbated by a wide variety of things; in this blog we take a look at whether stress is one of those factors.
What is blepharitis?
Blepharitis is a common irritation of the eye; it can affect either the root of the eyelashes or the glands on the inner eyelid, where the eyelid touches the cornea; sometimes both. It’s a chronic condition, which means that some people are susceptible to getting repeated flares of blepharitis; it’s not something that can be cured, so much as managed.
Symptoms include gritty or burning sensations; itchy eyelids; weeping or watery eyes; dry eyes; red eyes; swollen or inflamed eyelids.
What causes blepharitis?
Blepharitis isn’t usually caused by one direct thing; it’s a condition that tends to occur when various factors come into play. However, simply put, most cases of blepharitis are down to an over-proliferation of microbes on the skin, whether bacteria, yeasts or tiny mites that live at the base of the eyelashes. Why that happens is a different story, of course! Let’s take a closer look.
Risk factors for a blepharitis flare
Some people are definitely more prone to flare-ups of the condition than others, and the likelihood that they’ll get blepharitis is increased in certain circumstances. These include being in a dry, air conditioned atmosphere; being outside in cold or windy weather; wearing (and not removing) eye makeup; having rosacea or seborrheic dermatitis (dandruff); being in contact with allergens and irritants; wearing contact lenses.
How might stress aggravate blepharitis?
There are several reasons why stress might be added to the list of risk factors for a blepharitis flare.
- Stress can trigger or aggravate skin conditions like rosacea and seborrheic dermatitis, so a flare of either (or of eczema or psoriasis) can trigger or aggravate blepharitis.
- Stress, even when you don’t have a chronic skin condition, can affect how well your skin barrier functions; psychological stress has an association with dry eye, which can lead to blepharitis.
- Working long hours in an airconditioned office can dry out your eyes
- Working long hours at a screen can reduce your blink-rate and leave your eyes dry and vulnerable to a blepharitis flare
- The condition itself can increase stress and anxiety by causing distress, pain and self-consciousness, leading to a vicious circle of symptoms
- Stress can affect your overall health and well-being, reducing the efficiency of your body’s immune system response, and making it more likely that your system will go out of balance. This can have a knock-on effect on the balance of microbes on your skin, and lead to a proliferation of the bacteria, yeasts and mites that can cause or aggravate blepharitis.
How do you treat blepharitis?
Blepharitis responds very well to a daily management plan, which involves a three-step cleaning routine.
- Heat: place a hot compress or eye bag over your eyes for five minutes to warm the area
- Massage: massage very gently around the eyelashes to dislodge crusts and unblock ducts
- Cleaning: use a fresh, clean cotton bud dipped in well-diluted (scent- and soap-free) wash to clean the area around the eyelashes and eyelids
If your eyes are very sore and dry, you can use Skin Salvation to ease any irritation around your eyelids. There’s strong evidence to suggest that 5% tea tree ointment can prevent mites from breeding; massage a small amount of Balmonds Tea Tree Balm into your eyelashes. You can use diluted Balmonds Natural Shampoo & Body Wash to clean the area.
As part of your daily cleansing routine, swap your foaming or scented make-up remover for an oil-based cleanser, like Balmonds Omega-Rich Cleansing Oil, which is much less likely to irritate your eyelids.
If the condition persists, doesn’t improve or gets worse after a week of this regime, consult a doctor or pharmacist; you may be prescribed antibiotic eye drops.
Balmonds Skin Salvation
with hemp and beeswax
Balmonds Tea Tree Balm
balm with tea tree essential oil and beeswax
Balmonds Natural Shampoo & Body Wash
with calendula & chamomile
Balmonds Omega-Rich Cleansing Oil
with rosehip and calendula
If you require medical advice we recommend you always contact your healthcare professional.
If you or someone you are caring for seems very unwell, is getting worse or you think there's something seriously wrong, call for emergency services straight away. For general medical advice, please contact your healthcare professional, this article does not contain or replace medical advice.
Do not delay getting help if you're worried. Trust your instincts.