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Blepharitis: Types, Causes, Symptoms, First Aid Treatment and Management

The inflammation of the rims of the eyelids is called blepharitis. It is characterized by red, swollen and itchy eyelids with the formation of dandruff-like scales on the eyelashes. It is frequently caused by bacterial infection or other skin conditions. Blepharitis is not contagious and can affect anyone of any age. It does not have serious long-term consequences.

Blepharitis Types and Causes

The two types of blepharitis, anterior and posterior,are differentiated by their location in the eyelid.

  • Anterior blepharitis
    • Affects the front edge of the eyelid where the eyelids areattached
    • Typically caused by staphylococcal bacteria that iscommonly found on the skin’s flora
    • May also be caused by seborrheic blepharitis (dandruff of the scalp)
  • Posterior blepharitis
    • Occurs at  the inner edge of the eyelid (the area that comes in contact with the eyeball)
    • Caused by abnormal oil production of the meibomian glands that produce sebum to lubricate the eyes leading to a favorable environment for bacterial growth
    • May also be caused by acne rosacea and dandruff of the scalp

Other Causes

Aside from bacterial infection and irregular oil production, several other factors may also lead to blepharitis. These include:

  • Allergic reactions to eye medications
  • Head lice or tiny mites
  • Certain medications

Blepharitis Symptoms

Blepharitis can be diagnosed by a thorough eye examination. The following are the signs and symptoms of blepharitis:

  • Red and swollen eyes
  • Gritty or scratchy sensation in the eyes
  • Burning sensation in the eyes
  • Sensation that something is in the eye
  • Excessive tearing
    • Tears are frothy or bubbly
  • Itchiness in the eyelids
  • Dry eyes
  • Photosensitivity
  • Irritation
  • Abnormal growth of eyelashes or loss of eyelashes
  • Dandruff-like scales or crusting of the eyelids, which may lead to difficulty opening the eyes upon awakening
  • In severe cases, blurred vision, missing eyelashes, and inflammation of the other eye structures, specifically the cornea

Blepharitis First Aid Treatment and Management



There is no permanent cure for blepharitis, however, applying first aid can usually effectively treat and manage this eye condition. If left untreated, blepharitis can lead to serious conditions. The following steps can be done to provide comfort and reduce risks for complications:

  • Apply a clean, warm compress or washcloth over the closed eyelids for five minutes to ten minutes. Do this two to four times a day.If necessary, re-wet to retain wanted temperature. This will soften the hardened crusts and loosen oily debris.
  • Position the warm, wet compress over the index finger and put on a mixture of baby shampoo or mild soap and water in equal amounts.
  • While keeping the eye closed, clean one eye by gently rubbing the compress over the eyelashes and lid margins a few times. Follow horizontal strokes.
  • Thoroughly rinse with a clean, warm, wet washcloth. Gently pat dry.

Blepharitis is not necessarily a medical emergency but immediate is still necessary to avoid unnecessary complications. To learn more about blepharitis and other eye-related conditions or injuries, enroll in First Aid Courses.

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