What is blepharitis?

Blepharitis: Overview

Blepharitis is an inflammation or infection of the eyelids. It causes dry, scaly crusts on the eyelids. It can also cause your eyes to itch, burn, and look red. This problem is more common in people who have rosacea, dandruff, skin allergies, or eczema.

Home treatment can help you keep your eyes comfortable. Your doctor may also prescribe an ointment to put on your eyelids.


Blepharitis is an inflammation or infection of the eyelid. It is often caused by bacteria (usually staphylococcus) or related to a long-term (chronic) skin condition. These may include dandruff, skin allergies, or eczema.

This condition causes the edge of the eyelid to become red, itchy, and irritated. Sores may develop on the eyelid, or the eyeball itself may get red. The eye may also burn and itch. Matter may collect in the eye and form a crust on the eyelid edge and eyelashes overnight.

Usually, home treatment is all that is needed to treat blepharitis. This includes keeping the eyelids free of crust by cleaning the area with a mild soap that does not irritate the eyes, such as baby shampoo; placing warm washcloths over the eye; and applying antibiotic eye ointments. Severe cases of blepharitis may need to be treated with oral antibiotics (pills).

What are the symptoms of blepharitis?

If you have blepharitis:

  • Your eyelids may be red, irritated, itchy, scaly, or crusty, mainly along the edges of the lids.
  • Some of your eyelashes may fall out.
  • Your eyes may feel dry or gritty.

In some cases, symptoms may be more severe.

How is blepharitis treated?

You can often do things at home to feel better. For example, washing your eyelids or using artificial tears can help. You may need antibiotics to treat some types of blepharitis. If you have eye pain or a lot of swelling and redness, you may need to see a doctor for treatment.

How is blepharitis diagnosed?

The doctor will look at your eyes, eyelids, and eyelashes with a lighted tool.

How can you care for yourself when you have blepharitis?

You can use a warm, wet washcloth and baby shampoo to gently wash your eyelids and eyebrows daily. Avoid wearing contact lenses or eye makeup while your eyelids are healing. If your eyes are dry, you can try artificial tears. If your doctor prescribed medicine for you, use it exactly as directed.



Blepharitis is an inflammation of the eyelids. It causes redness, itchiness, irritation, and scaly skin at the edges of the eyelids. It is one of the most common eye problems in older adults.

Blepharitis: When to call

Call your doctor now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • You have signs of an eye infection, such as:
    • Pus or thick discharge coming from the eye.
    • Redness or swelling around the eye.
    • A fever.

Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor if:

  • You have vision changes.
  • You do not get better as expected.

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