Blepharitis is an inflammation of the eyelids. The white of the eye and the membrane covering the inside of the eyelid may also become inflamed. Blepharitis can be caused by bacteria (germs) on the eyelids or on the skin around the eyes. Oily skin and poor eyelid hygiene can also cause blepharitis. Wearing contact lenses or makeup can make the symptoms worse. Blepharitis can't always be cured. But it can be controlled.
Oil and bacteria coat the eyelids near the base of the eyelashes. You may then have: redness of the eyelids, swelling and tenderness of the eyelids, itching around the eyelashes, greasy flakes or scales around the eyelashes or hard crusts at the base of the eyelashes. These crusts may cause the 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 properly, it can lead to a cyst (an inflammation of an oil gland on the eyelid) or an infection at the base of an eyelash.
Your eye doctor can most often diagnose blepharitis by checking your eyelids closely. To treat or avoid the problem, you need to keep your eyelids clean.
To help keep your eyes from becoming inflamed:
Page updated January 08, 2010