Getting rid of blepharitis requires a careful routine of washing and cleaning your eyes, so you’d be forgiven for thinking it’s caused by a lack of cleanliness. But is this really the case? We dig a bit deeper into the whys and wherefores of this common eye complaint.
What is blepharitis?
Blepharitis is a common eye condition that causes itchy, swollen, crusty eyelids. It’s not contagious, and is usually possible to manage with a simple daily regime of washing and massage.
If blepharitis is left untreated, secondary complications can develop; while the condition isn’t serious in itself, the blocked ducts, inflammation and itchiness it causes can result in problems such as styes, chalazions, or damage to the cornea.
What causes blepharitis?
Blepharitis is a condition with multiple contributing causes, and certainly isn’t as simple as having poor hygiene! That’s because some people are more prone to flares of blepharitis than others, for reasons that have nothing to do with cleanliness. It’s not contagious, so you can’t catch it by not having good hygiene, or pass it on to anyone else.
However, in order to treat blepharitis, it’s important to instate an eye hygiene regime, which should clear up a flare-up effectively. Most people do not have a regular eye hygiene routine, so it’s not the case that anyone who needs to treat blepharitis is necessarily ‘less clean’ than those who don’t suffer from blepharitis.
Risk factors for blepharitis include:
- An overgrowth of microbes that live on the skin. Bacteria, yeasts and mites are commonly found on human skin; they’re not a sign of poor hygiene. Problems arise when there’s a proliferation of these normally harmless microbes, which can cause tear ducts to get blocked and an imbalance in the healthy functioning of the skin barrier.
- Having skin conditions such as dandruff, seborrheic dermatitis, or rosacea/acne rosacea.
- Having diabetes
- Being older
- Wearing contact lenses
- Being in contact with irritants such as dust, chemicals, detergents, cosmetics
- Environmental factors such wind, low temperatures, and dry environments (ie aircon)
- Poor eyelid hygiene is only one of these contributory factors; if you have rosacea, work in an air-conditioned environment, and don’t remember to take your mascara off every night, then you have a greater chance of developing blepharitis than those who don’t.
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
- Massage: massage around the eyelashes extremely gently 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
As far as daily hygiene goes, it’s also important to follow these steps to prevent further blepharitis flares:
- remove makeup carefully and thoroughly every day (or avoid wearing it altogether, especially during a flare-up)
- replace mascara, eye shadow, eyeliner and foundation regularly
- remove and clean/replace contact lenses regularly
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.