What is blepharitis?
Blepharitis is a common, chronic inflammation of the eyes and eyelids; it can make your eyes sore, gritty, watery or dry, and if left untreated can lead to complications such as styes, blurred vision and even damage to the cornea. It tends to come and go in waves, with periods of time where it flares up, and then periods of remission.
What causes blepharitis?
Blepharitis usually flares because of a combination of different factors occurring at once, so it’s hard to pin it down to one definite cause. It’s associated with having another chronic skin condition (eczema, rosacea, dandruff/seborrheic dermatitis), for example. It’s also linked to having a proliferation of bacteria, yeasts, or mites on your skin; these microbes can proliferate when your skin is flaky, if oil or tear ducts get blocked, or when you’re feeling run down.
It can also be affected by things you put on your skin: irritating ingredients in your contact lens solution, toiletries such as face washes or shampoo, or cosmetics like mascara and eye shadow can all increase inflammation of your skin and trigger or aggravate your blepharitis.
What makeup can I use?
If you’re prone to blepharitis, it’s sensible to choose cosmetics that won’t irritate your sensitive eyes. Here are some tips for safer makeup!
- Chose hypoallergenic brands, and be very aware of how your skin reacts when you use something for the first time.
- If you feel irritation, even if the eye pencil or mascara is brand new, then stop using it. You could try doing a patch test before using a new mascara or eyeliner on your eyes: smear a bit of the makeup in the crook of your elbow, cover with a plaster and leave for a day to check for reaction. It’s not 100% guaranteed, as your eyelids are even more sensitive than the inner elbow, but it’s a good first step.
- Avoid cosmetics with parabens, fragrance, and extra ingredients such as dyes or waterproof formulae: the simpler the better for blepharitis!
- Throw out any makeup that’s over 3 months old.
- Don’t draw on the ‘waterline’, ie the inner edge of your eyelid! Keep eyeliners to the outer lid only.
- Remove all your makeup thoroughly at the end of the day! 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, and will leave a fine soothing, protective layer of oil over your eyelashes.
- Everyone is different, and one brand might be fine for you but a no-no for the next person with blepharitis.
Have a makeup break
If you’re in mid flare, it’s worth having a total break from any make-up at all, just while the flare resolves. Anything you put on already itchy, sore or irritated eyes will increase the risk of the blepharitis getting worse, so try a two week makeup holiday to allow your skin to calm down and heal.
How to manage blepharitis
Blepharitis can often be managed by setting up a regular cleaning regime, although severe cases might need antibiotics to clear up any bacterial infection. Here’s our five step blepharitis 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
- Clean: use a fresh, clean cotton bud dipped in diluted Balmonds Natural Shampoo & Body Wash (add a drop to a egg-cup of warm water) to clean the area around the eyelashes and eyelids
- Soothe: apply Skin Salvation to protect and soothe irritation around your eyelids
- Protect: massage a small amount of Balmonds Tea Tree Balm into your eyelashes (there’s good evidence to suggest that 5% tea tree ointment can prevent mites from breeding and aggravating blepharitis)
If the condition persists, doesn’t improve or gets worse after a week of this regime, consult a doctor or pharmacist; you may have to be prescribed antibiotic eye drops.
Balmonds Skin Salvation
with hemp and beeswax
Balmonds Natural Shampoo & Body Wash
with calendula & chamomile
Balmonds Tea Tree Balm
balm with tea tree essential oil and beeswax
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.