What is Blepharitis?
A common inflammation, blepharitis produces a red-rimmed appearance of the margins of the eyelids. It’s frequently chronic and bilateral and can affect both upper and lower lids. Seborrheic blepharitis is characterized by waxy scales and is common in older adults and in persons with red hair. Staphylococcal (ulcerative) blepharitis is characterized by tiny ulcerated areas along the lid margins. Both types may coexist. Debris and protein build-up at the base of eyelashes are called “collarettes” in blepharitis
Blepharitis tends to recur and become chronic. It can be controlled if treatment begins before the onset of ocular involvement
What are the causes of blepharitis?
There are many factors which contribute to blepharitis. The most common are poor eyelid hygiene, blocked glands in the eyelids, excess oil produced by the glands in the eyelid, a bacterial infection (often staphylococcal), or an allergic reaction. Seborrheic blepharitis generally results from seborrhea of the scalp, eyebrows, and ears; ulcerative blepharitis, from Staphylococcus aureus infection. (People with this infection may also tend to develop chalazions and styes.)
Signs and symptoms of blepharitis
Clinical features of blepharitis include itching, burning, foreign-body sensation, and sticky, crusted eyelids on waking. This constant irritation results in unconscious rubbing of the eyes (causing reddened rims) or continual blinking. Other signs include waxy scales in seborrheic blepharitis; flaky scales on lashes, loss of lashes, and ulcerated areas on lid margins in ulcerative blepharitis.
Natural home remedies for the treatment of blepharitis
Early treatment is essential to prevent recurrence or complications. Blepharitis can be difficult to manage because it tends to recur. Treatment depends on the type of blepharitis you have. It may include applying warm compresses to the eyelids, cleansing them, using an antibiotic and/or massaging the lids.
- Daily shampooing of eyelashes (using a mild shampoo on a damp applicator stick or a washcloth) to remove scales from the lid margins; also, frequent shampooing of the scalp and eyebrows. This help to cure seborrheic blepharitis.
- Warm compresses heat the debris and crust on the lid margin to or above the melting point of their individual components so that they are easily removed with the lid scrubs. Technique: Soaking a washcloth in water as warm as the eyelids can stand, and then placing the cloth on the lid surface (eyelids closed) for a five to ten minute period. In the acute phase this is performed 2 to 4 times day. One method described is the use of a fresh-boiled egg (in its shell wrapped in a washcloth).
- Plain water plus (a very small amount of) vinegar compress :- Before using a vinegar compress, first put a drop of artificial tears in each eye, such as refresh Lubricant Eye Drops. Add 1 teaspoon of distilled white vinegar to 2 or 3 cups of clean water, and then use a clean washcloth (or 2 or 3 lint-free tissues instead of a washcloth) for the compress.
- Boil an eye-dropper bottle for 10 minutes in fresh distilled water (not the water you used to make the solution). Use a stainless steel pan reserved only for this use. Pour the aloe vera / boric acid solution into the eye-dropper bottle. Use as an eye drop three times a day.
Prevention and special considerations tips
- Instruct the patient to gently remove scales from the lid margins daily with an applicator stick or a clean washcloth.
- Not wearing eye makeup is also a good idea, since it can get in the way of eyelid hygiene and massage treatments.
- Teach the patient the following method for applying warm compresses: First, run warm water into a clean bowl. Then immerse a clean cloth in the water and wring it out. Place the warm cloth against the closed eyelid. (Be careful not to burn the skin.) Hold the compress in place until it cools. Continue this procedure for 15 minutes.