If you’ve ever woken up with sticky, crusty eyes you know that it’s an exceptionally uncomfortable experience. Unfortunately, this isn’t always a one-time event confined to the first few moments of the day. If you have persistent problems with swollen, crusty, or inflamed eyelids you may be suffering from blepharitis. This is an annoying and complex condition, but fortunately, there are many blepharitis treatments that can deliver relief.
Blepharitis is an eyelid condition that can be caused by a number of different underlying causes. It can be due to issues with your eyes’ internal structures – particularly the meibomian glands that are supposed to lubricate them – or do to infections or skin conditions. Some cases of blepharitis can even be caused by eyelash mites.
Regardless of the causes of your blepharitis, symptoms tend to be the same. The skin around the eyes can become sore, inflamed, tender, or itchy. Watery, burning eyes are common. You may experience increased crusting of the eyelids when you wake up, sticky or oily eyelids during the day, increased frequency of blinking, and sensitivity to light. In extreme cases, blepharitis can cause eyelash loss, pinkeye, styes, or corneal injuries.
In all but the most chronic cases of the condition, sound blepharitis treatment usually revolves around a systematic use of good hygiene in the affected area. Warm compresses can be applied to both soothe any skin irritations and to loosen any deposits around the eyelashes. A moistened washcloth or cotton swab can then be used to wash the eyelids gently but thoroughly. Rinse your eyes with warm water and pat them dry when you’re done.
This basic routine should always be followed in the morning when you get up. Depending on the severity of your symptoms, you may find it helpful to repeat the routine three to four times a day. It’s sometimes also useful to very carefully pull the eyelids away from your eyes while you wash them. It’s also a good idea to forego mascara or other forms of eye makeup while you’re having problems with blepharitis.
When increased care with your eyelid hygiene doesn’t prove to be enough to resolve blepharitis, consult with your primary care physician or an optometrist. A healthcare professional can use careful diagnosis and testing to determine your condition’s root cause or causes. Depending on what’s causing your blepharitis, your physician may recommend a topical or oral medication.
Oral medications and stronger prescription drugs are most often used when your blepharitis is conclusively tied to a more serious underlying cause such as bacterial infection, rosacea, or seborrheic dermatitis. Your doctor may also recommend an alteration to your hair care routine (e.g. special shampoos) if dandruff or eyelash mites are contributing to your condition.
Treating blepharitis is complex because there are so many factors that can contribute to the condition. It may take you some time to zero in on effective treatments, even with the assistance of healthcare professionals. Have patience and be diligent about following all of the treatment instructions you receive! Although it takes time, blepharitis is something that you can definitely overcome.