Is Blepharitis Bacterial Or Viral?

What is blepharitis?

Blepharitis is a common irritation of the eyelids. It’s characterised by dry, inflamed, itchy or crusty skin around the eyes, and can make your eyes feel dry or gritty. It tends to come and go in flares, and treatment plans are designed to reduce the severity and the frequency of the attacks.

What causes blepharitis?

There are several different types of blepharitis, caused by a variety of triggers, ranging from existing skin conditions to environmental factors. A flare of blepharitis can be set off or aggravated by a whole range of different situations, substances or factors, and often involves more than one aggravating factor, so it’s a complicated condition to pin down!

Some - but not all - kinds of blepharitis can be caused by an infection, either bacterial or viral.

Viral blepharitis

When blepharitis is caused by a virus, it’s often herpes simplex or varicella zoster that’s at fault, although molluscum contagiosum can also cause blepharitis. These viruses can cause blistering on the eyelids, and are treated with antiviral medication. 

Bacterial blepharitis

Blepharitis can also be caused by a bacterial infection. It is usually a staphylococcal infection at the front of the eyelids, or in blocked meibomian oil glands at the base of the eyelashes. Staphylococcus bacteria are normally found on skin, but when they proliferate, that can be a problem. They can block ducts, glands and follicles, and cause inflammation on and in the skin.

When blepharitis is caused by bacteria, it can be recurrent rather than a one-off case. It’s usually treated with antibiotic creams or eye drops.

Other causes of blepharitis

Not all blepharitis is either viral or bacterial: sometimes it’s yeasts on the skin, or tiny mites called Demodex that cause ducts to be blocked or the skin to get irritated. The results are similar: irritated, dry, sore, crusted eyes, which can feel either very dry or watery.

Treating blepharitis

Blepharitis can be managed very well with a daily three-step cleaning regime.

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

Clean: 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.

Recommended products:

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


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