What Is Blepharitis?

Blepharitis is a redness and swelling (inflammation) of the eyelids. The membrane covering the inside of your eyelid and the white of your eye may also become inflamed. Blepharitis can be caused by germs (bacteria) on your eyelids or on the skin around your eyes. Dandruff or oily skin can also cause blepharitis. Wearing contact lenses or makeup can make your symptoms worse. Blepharitis may be a long-term (chronic) condition that is hard to manage because it tends to come back again and again.

Front view of eye showing blepharitis.

What are the symptoms?

When you have blepharitis, oil and bacteria coat your eyelids near the base of your eyelashes. This can cause:

  • Redness, irritation, and tearing of your eyelids

  • Swollen, tender eyelids

  • Blurred vision

  • Itching around your eyelashes

  • Greasy flakes or scales around your eyelashes

  • Hard crusts at the base of your eyelashes. These crusts may cause your eyelashes to fall out.

Flakes or crusts can form during the night. If this happens, it may be hard for you to open your eyes in the morning. If blepharitis is not treated promptly, it can lead to an infection at the base of an eyelash or oil gland. This infection is called a stye. Left untreated, it may become a chronic cyst. You may need surgery to remove it.

Online Medical Reviewer: Chris Haupert MD
Online Medical Reviewer: Raymond Kent Turley BSN MSN RN
Online Medical Reviewer: Rita Sather RN
Date Last Reviewed: 8/1/2021
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