Blepharitis is a common condition that is characterised by inflammation around the edges of the eyelids. Although it cannot usually be cured, blepharitis can be treated successfully with good hygiene practices and, in some cases, antibiotic ointment. Here we take an in-depth look at the condition and explain how to treat blepharitis.
Symptoms of blepharitis
Treatment of blepharitis focuses on reducing the symptoms, rather than curing the condition. Signs and symptoms of blepharitis can include:
- Red and inflamed eyelids
- Crusting around the eyelids
- Itching and discomfort
- Gritty sensation, as if a small foreign object is in the eye
- Burning sensation
Blepharitis is a chronic condition, meaning that these signs and symptoms can recur over time. So, while the inflammation is not sight threatening, it can be troublesome for the patient when the symptoms come back. This means it’s especially important to follow your doctor’s instructions on treatment.
Treatment for blepharitis will depend on how severe your symptoms are. Your doctor or eye specialist will advise you on how to treat blepharitis in your own particular case. Unfortunately, there is no cure for the condition that will get rid of the symptoms entirely, but by following good eyelid hygiene practices, the treatment can be effective after 4-6 weeks.
It will take weeks to get results, but it is important to persevere with an eyelid hygiene routine. It works by unblocking the oil glands that contribute to inflammation. Here’s how to treat blepharitis by warming and cleaning the area daily:
- First, hold a clean flannel soaked in comfortably hot water against the (closed) eyelids for 5 minutes. This melts oils in the blocked glands and softens the skin and any crusts attached to the eyelids. If the flannel cools, keep re-warming it in hot water. To make this easier, you can buy microwavable hot-compresses for this purpose.
- Then massage the eyelids by gently and carefully rolling your first finger across the eyelids from the nose to the temple. Do this on both the upper and then the lower eyelids. This helps to push out the melted oils from the tiny eyelid glands. Be careful not to touch the inside of the eyelid when doing this.
- Next, clean away any crusts that are present, particularly around the roots of the lashes, using fresh cotton buds. If you like, you can use a cleaning foam and eyelid wipes.
Don’t forget to carry out this routine once a day without fail. Do NOT clean inside the eyelids or rub your eyelids, as this could make the inflammation worse.
It may also be a good idea to stop wearing makeup when your eyelids are inflamed as this can make it more difficult to practice good eyelid hygiene and keeps your eyelids clear of debris.
Your doctor may prescribe antibiotic ointment to help treat blepharitis.
After cleaning your lashes as above, apply some antibiotic ointment to the tip of a fresh cotton bud or a clean finger and rub it into the roots of your eyelashes, top and bottom, just before bedtime. Perform this nightly for 2 weeks, then twice a week for 10 weeks.
Oral antibiotic tablets
Some forms of blepharitis require a course of oral antibiotic tablets, usually for several months. Your doctor will explain how to take them. You will probably be advised to take one Doxycycline 100mg tablet twice a day for the first 2 weeks and once a day thereafter. These should be taken with food. After three months, the dosage may be reduced to one tablet every two days.
Steroid eye drops
Occasionally, blepharitis is treated with a course of steroid eye drops.
Sometimes the condition can cause dry eyes, which can be treated with artificial tears.
Flaxseed or Omega 3 oil capsules
Omega oils can treat the symptoms of blepharitis by improving the quality from the oil glands, which will help to prevent tear evaporation. These supplements are available over the counter without a prescription. Simply take one capsule with breakfast and one more with your evening meal.
More information on blepharitis
Find out more about how to treat blepharitis and what causes the condition on our patient information page. Alternatively, book a consultation with Mr Barsam by contacting us on 0808 133 2020 or by filling in our online booking form.