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What is blepharitis?

Blepharitis is irritation (inflammation) of the eyelids. It can lead to problems such as dry eye and styes.




What causes blepharitis?

Each eyelash has an oil gland. In blepharitis, oil glands can become blocked and become inflamed (causing styes/chalazions). Tiny microscopic dandruff-like particles form along the lashes and eyelid margin. Other people cannot see the particles. Only your eye doctor can see them using the slit lamp in the office.

The combination of eyelash “dandruff” and the backed-up oil glands causes the eye to feel irritated. The eye needs to be lubricated by the oil in the eyelid glands. If the oil is backed up, it is not doing its job lubricating the surface of the eye. This makes the eye dry. Blepharitis frequently occurs in people who have oily skin, rosacea, dandruff, or other conditions that cause dry eye.


People with blepharitis may have some of these common symptoms:

  • Eye irritation or foreign body sensation

  • Itchy or burning eyes

  • Eye or eyelid redness

  • Styes, chalazions, and infections

How is blepharitis treated?

  • You can wash the eyelashes to remove any dandruff particles with good lid hygiene using:

    • Avenova, Hypochlor, or other hypochlorous acid sprays

    • Ocusoft lid scrubs

    • Baby shampoo


  • You can also “melt” the backed-up oil in the eyelid glands using a warm compress at least twice a day. (Your doctor may recommend using it more often.) You can make one at home by putting uncooked rice or beans in a clean sock and microwaving for 20 seconds. There are also masks that can be heated in the microwave and these stay warmer longer called Bruder masks.


  • Lubricate your dry eyes using artificial tears and ointments


  • Antibiotics may be helpful for some patients. Studies have shown oral doxycycline can be great for your eyelids for its anti-inflammatory properties


  • Omega 3 fatty acids including fish oil supplements

Where can I learn more?

The resource below for more information on blepharitis.


american board of ophthalmology
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