Blepharitis: what is it, symptoms, treatment, contagion, is it curable?


What is blepharitis?

Blepharitis is the inflammation of the outer part of the eyelids. When located on the inside, it is called a meibomite.

Its symptoms are similar, involving eye redness, burning, excessive production of tears and accumulation of secretions in the eyelashes. It most commonly manifests itself in a chronic form, but it can also be acute.

Blepharitis can usually be caused by mites, hormonal factors, excess oil on the skin, makeup, excessively oily make-up removers or even exposure to irritants. It can also be caused by other skin problems – like rosacea

The disease has a cure and treatment. However, it is common for the problem to always return after some time.

Possible complications include deformations, loss of eyelashes and even the development of changes in the cornea that can affect visual quality.

According to the ICD-10 (International Classification of Diseases) categorization, blepharitis corresponds to the code H01.0.

Types of blepharitis

There are some specific typifications of blepharitis, according to three criteria: cause, occurrence and location of the inflammation.

Classification according to cause

Allergic blepharitis

It is the most common form of blepharitis, which arises due to inflammation caused by changes in microorganisms that live naturally in the eye region, or even by excess oil in the skin.

Clinically, it can also be called hyperemic blepharitis.

Ulcerative blepharitis

Ulcerative blepharitis is usually caused by bacterial infections. They can also be called staphylococcal blepharitis , in a reference to the name of the bacterium that causes the problem: Staphylococcus aureus .

It usually reaches the entire length from the edge of the eyelids to the tips of the lashes. It is the rarest and most serious type of blepharitis.

Seborrheic blepharitis

Also called scaly blepharitis, seborrheic blepharitis is characterized by the appearance of thick “cones” over the entire surface of the eyelid. It is caused by problems like seborrhea and rosacea.

Classification according to location

Anterior blepharitis

It affects the outer part of the eyelid and the region of the base of the lashes.

Posterior blepharitis

It affects the inner part of the eyelids, especially the internal sebaceous glands responsible for lubricating the eye region – especially the Meibômio gland, which are also called meibomite.

Mixed blepharitis

Also known as marginal blepharitis, it affects both the inner and outer part of the eyelid. It is usually associated with cases of ulcerative blepharitis.

Classification according to occurrence


It is characterized by being an isolated episode of blepharitis, which appears, lasts a few days and goes away.


It is the most common type of blepharitis. It usually manifests itself in successive and lasting crises, which can take weeks and even months to pass.

Causes of blepharitis

Blepharitis is often a direct complication of some specific health problems. Are they:

Bacterial infection

Infectious blepharitis is usually caused by a bacterium called Staphylococcus aureus , which belongs to the staph family.

The Staphylococcus aureus usually normally inhabit the skin and is very common. It is estimated that the bacteria is present in about 15% of human beings.

Seborrheic dermatitis

The seborrheic dermatitis is a chronic disease that causes skin peeling process. It is usually called dandruff, since it usually reaches the scalp.

However, dandruff is only one of the mildest and early symptoms of seborrheic dermatitis . The problem can also affect other areas of the body, such as nose and eyebrows and eyelashes, for example.

The disease increases the oiliness of the skin, which, in turn, favors the development of inflammation in the skin – including blepharitis.


It is estimated that 50% of rosacea sufferers develop a stage of the disease called ocular rosacea, which, in turn, causes several problems in the eye region.

One of the most common problems caused by ocular rosacea is precisely blepharitis, which usually affects these patients in its chronic form.


Allergies to certain products applied to the eyes (such as eye drops or tattoo inks, false eyelashes). This is because, during allergic crises, the region is more susceptible to the entry of microorganisms.

Eyelash mites or lice

Foreign microorganisms are some of the major agents that cause blepharitis. The most common are mites called Demodex, which proliferate due to conditions such as:

  • Oily skin;
  • Smoking;
  • Excessive use of alcohol;
  • Abrupt changes in temperature;
  • Excessive heat;
  • Stress;
  • Poor hygiene.

Eyelash lice infestations are also common sources for blepharitis. These lice, in fact, are pubic microorganisms that migrate and lodge in the lashes, causing inflammation and infections.

Eyelid tumor

Although rare, a specific type of tumor on the eyelid, called sebaceous carcinoma of the eyelid, usually manifests itself, at first, through successive cases of blepharitis.

Therefore, every patient who suffers from chronic blepharitis with very frequent manifestations and who does not improve with treatment should undergo tests to rule out the tumor hypothesis.

Groups of risk

People prone to oily skin

Chronic blepharitis is common in people with oily skin.

This is because the excessive production of oil by the sebaceous glands can favor various skin inflammations – including blepharitis and acne .

People with a tendency to dandruff

According to a survey by ophthalmologists at the University of Texas medical center, somewhere between 33% and 46% of patients with seborrheic blepharitis who have been through the institution have problems with dandruff.

People with sty (widow) and repetition chalazion

Internal blepharitis or meibomitis can completely obstruct the eyelid gland, leading to the formation of a painful local lump ( sty ). When it does not drain spontaneously or even with the treatment, it forms a hardened capsule, the treatment cannot penetrate and be effective, requiring surgery.

Repetition stye and chalazion have chronic meibomitis as the main cause.

People with dry eyes

Dry Eye Syndrome is a problem characterized by the body’s inefficiency in producing enough tears to lubricate the eyes.

According to research by the University of Texas, 50% of people with blepharitis also suffer from Dry Eye Syndrome.

Blepharitis cases can also alter the tear composition, ie, the tear produced is of low quality and evaporates quickly. Thus, even if there is excessive tearing, the patient also manifests symptoms of dry eye.

Rosacea carriers

Rosacea is a chronic and inflammatory disease that affects the skin, usually after the age of 30.

Blepharitis symptoms

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In early stages, the first symptoms are watery and irritated eyes. Therefore, it is common for blepharitis to be confused with conjunctivitis and even sty.

However, the rest of the symptoms are quite characteristic. Among the signs of blepharitis, there are:

  • Red eyes;
  • Watery eyes;
  • Eyelashes with a greasy appearance;
  • Burning and / or burning sensation in the eyes;
  • Swollen and / or reddened eyelids;
  • Itchy eyes;
  • Peeling on the eyelids;
  • Eyes sensitive to light;
  • Frequent need to blink;
  • Feeling of “glued eyes” when waking up;
  • Abnormal and exaggerated growth of eyelashes;
  • Falling lashes;
  • Blurred vision.

Blepharitis, conjunctivitis or sty? Know the difference!

Red eyes, itchiness, photosensitivity (the clinical name of the situation where the eyes cannot adapt to light), blurred vision: what disease would you say these symptoms belong to?

The initial signs of conjunctivitis, blepharitis and sty are extremely similar. Therefore, it is not uncommon for patients to confuse the three problems and end up treating the disease wrongly, on their own.

Despite similar symptoms, these diseases manifest themselves through very different physical aspects and durations. Check it out below:

  • Conjunctivitis : it manifests itself as an irritation in the white part of the eye, which usually turns completely red. Lasts up to a week in adults;
  • Stye : it is a kind of red “ball”, like a swelling, that appears near the ends of the eyelids. It looks a lot like a pimple. It lasts, on average, from 3 to 7 days;
  • Blepharitis : is characterized by the redness of the white part of the eye and the edges of the eyelids. The lashes take on a greasy appearance and their roots are covered with secretions. Some people may experience skin peeling. It can last from weeks to months.

When in doubt, it is important to always go to the doctor and not self-medicate. The wrong treatment can further aggravate your problem.

How is the diagnosis of blepharitis made?

In general, the diagnosis of blepharitis is made only through clinical examination, that is, at the time of the medical consultation.

The ophthalmologist can also use some devices to have a larger dimension of the problem, such as microscopes and other optical augmentation instruments.

If blepharitis persists for a long time, the professional may request a sweep of the eyelid and send the material for biopsy, to rule out the hypothesis of an eyelid tumor.

Is Blepharitis Contagious?

At first, no, blepharitis is not contagious .

There is a remote possibility of contracting the disease by sharing certain objects with a person who has blepharitis – such as, for example, a makeup brush or a towel that the patient has placed over the eyes, for example.

However, for contamination to occur in this way, contact with the object must be practically immediate, right after the use of the person with blepharitis, since the microorganisms that cause the disease survive for a limited time outside the body.

Blepharitis has a cure?

It can be said that yes, blepharitis is treated and cured . However, the vast majority of cases are chronic.

This means that no matter how much the problem goes away, it will probably return after a while. Therefore, it is important to have constant medical monitoring.

Blepharitis Treatment

Blepharitis treatments basically consist of cleaning the area and applying medications. In some cases, the list of medications prescribed by the doctor may include antibiotics and corticosteroids.

Selected cases may require long-term treatment, even with oral and immunosuppressive medications.

In addition, the doctor will also do his best to map what is causing the problem and treat the underlying disease.

The main recommendations for treating blepharitis are:


Cleaning your eyelids once a day (or even twice, depending on how severe your inflammation is) is a key treatment step for blepharitis. For this, your doctor will recommend a specific solution for cleaning the region. You can also use a neutral children’s shampoo.

To perform the procedure, it will be necessary to dip a cotton swab in the product prescribed by your doctor and spread it over the entire surface of the eyelids and near the base of the lashes. It is essential that you do not let the product fall into your eyes, so as not to make the situation worse.

The final cleaning step is rinsing, which must be done with the use of saline.

It is important to remove the peels, scabs and scales that form on the eyelids during blepharitis attacks only during the time of cleaning, using warm water. Removing these elements without the aid of liquid can cause serious damage and injury to the region.


Making a warm compress twice a day will help to remove the secretions that accumulate on the eyelids of patients with blepharitis.

There are several ways to make a compress. The simplest is to soak a cotton towel in warm water and apply on the desired spot for a period of 5 to 10 minutes.

But beware! It is important to make sure that the compress is not too hot before applying it on the eyelid, to avoid worsening the skin peeling typical of blepharitis.


Amazingly, massaging the eyelids helps to eliminate secretions accumulated in the lashes. It is important to perform the procedure twice a day, right after the compress.

To do the massage, with clean hands, make gentle circular movements across the eyelid, in a horizontal direction, using your fingertips. The massages should last for about a minute.

Alternative treatment

Omega 3

Omega 3 is an essential fat (that is, it is not naturally produced by the body and can only be obtained through food) known to provide several health benefits.

One of them is the direct action of the substance on the health of the Meibômio gland, responsible, among other things, for the lubrication of the eyes.

Regular intake of foods with Omega 3 improves the quantity and quality of tears produced, contributing to the control of blepharitis.

Among the foods with Omega 3 that can be added to your menu, are:

  • Sardine;
  • Salmon;
  • Anchovies;
  • Scallops;
  • Crab;
  • Shrimp;
  • Trout;
  • Tilapia;
  • Flax seed;
  • Chia seed;
  • Cauliflower;
  • Brussels sprouts.

Medicines and ointments for blepharitis

The doctor may recommend some specific medications to treat infection by blepharitis, such as:

  • Gentamycin ;
  • Cylocort ;
  • Tobracular ;
  • Cilodex ;
  • Maxiflox D ;
  • Tobrex .

In addition, the professional should also recommend some medication to treat the problem that caused the blepharitis, lubricating eye drops to improve the symptom and specific medications, including oral medications that may be needed when the disease is more aggressive.


NEVER self-medicate or stop using a medication without first consulting a doctor. Only he will be able to tell which medication, dosage and duration of treatment is the most suitable for his specific case. The information contained in this website is only intended to inform, not in any way intended to replace the guidance of a specialist or serve as a recommendation for any type of treatment. Always follow the instructions on the package insert and, if symptoms persist, seek medical or pharmaceutical advice.

Living with blepharitis

Even if your blepharitis is chronic (and especially if it is!), You need to treat the problem properly, following all medical recommendations.

A fundamental stage of your experience with blepharitis is regular eye cleaning, which should be done daily, in a very neat way. (For more information, read the subsection “Keep your eyes clean”).

It is also important to keep your eyes lubricated. Discuss with your doctor the possibility of applying ophthalmic lubricants, or even investing in natural treatments for lubrication – such as chamomile infusion, for example.

In addition, it is essential to check the source of your blepharitis and treat it, if possible, to reduce the problem and avoid other complications.

Who has blepharitis can wear makeup?

Who has chronic blepharitis should avoid any measure that increases the oiliness of the margin of the eyelids. In the case of make-up, priority must be given to those with water and not oil as their base.

It is important to take care not to aggravate the problem, such as taking off the makeup the right way every night and investing in quality and hypoallergenic products. Many make-up removers, which are too oily, can aggravate the problem.

Read more: Micellar Water: what it is, what it is for and comparing brands

Blepharitis complications

Impossibility to wear contact lenses

The presence of bacteria and microorganisms, combined with secretion and inflammation in the eye region, makes the simple act of using a contact lens more delicate.

This is because all these conditions decrease the defense capabilities of the eyes, which become more susceptible to infections caused by the presence of a foreign organism – in this case, the contact lens, which also retains part of the water increasing the sensation of dry eye caused by blepharitis.

The use of contact lenses during blepharitis can also cause infections, which can even be serious, in the case of corneal ulcers.

Loss of eyelashes

Clinically called madarosis, the loss of eyelashes caused by untreated blepharitis may seem like an aesthetic tragedy, but it is far more serious than that.

Eyelashes have an important function in eye health: that of protecting your eyes from external agents that may impair your vision. This includes dirt and fungi, for example.

Therefore, losing your eyelashes is a serious complication that can lead to extremes such as loss of vision.

Generally, when madharose is caused by blepharitis or other dermatitis, it is possible to reverse the situation and make the lashes grow back.


Having a blepharitis for a long time can affect the tissues around the eyes, causing permanent deformities.

The phenomenon happens due to the alteration of the cellular structure of these tissues, caused by the long-term infection.


The accumulation of secretions due to blepharitis can obstruct some eyelid glands, causing a sty, also known as a widow or hordeolus.

The stye is a kind of red nodule, much like a boil or inflamed spine, which appears in the corner of the eyes. The problem causes, among other things, pain, sensitivity to light and tearing.

If it does not drain spontaneously or is treated, it can develop into a nodulation called chalazion.


Chalazion consists of a lesion very similar to a stye, which rises directly above the eyelid. It happens because of the inflammation of a structure called the Meibômio gland, responsible for the production of the fatty part that helps to stabilize the tear in the eye, preventing it from evaporating quickly.

Since blepharitis can directly affect the Meibomian gland, in the case of internal blepharitis (meibomitis), chalazion ends up being a common complication of the disease.

The nodule usually reaches the lower or upper eyelid. In addition to being aesthetically annoying, you may experience periods of inflammation.

Large chalazions can cause deformity with drop of the eyelid and even visual blurring. The problem can usually only be treated with surgical treatment.


Conjunctivitis is the inflammation of the transparent membrane that protects the eyeball, lining the white part of the eye. It can happen if the microorganism that is causing blepharitis migrates into the eyes.

The most characteristic symptom of conjunctivitis is redness in the eyes, which also itch and burn a lot.

Despite looking like a simple disease, conjunctivitis can have serious consequences, such as the appearance of a corneal ulcer, which, in turn, can lead to loss of vision.

Corneal ulcer

Untreated blepharitis can migrate to other eye structures, especially the cornea – a transparent layer that protects the eyeball.

As soon as the inflammation reaches the cornea, there is a possibility of progression to a corneal ulcer.

Corneal ulcer, in turn, is the destruction or deterioration of the cornea. It is considered a medical emergency and should be treated as soon as possible. Its most serious consequence is permanent loss of vision.

Blepharitis in babies

It is not uncommon for blepharitis – especially in its chronic form – to manifest itself in the first years of a child’s life.

Babies are more susceptible to this type of infection because their immune systems have not yet developed enough resistance to defend themselves from a range of problems and microorganisms.

Therefore, it is common for babies to be affected by weaker and less intense blepharitis compared to adults. In some cases, the infection may even go away on its own in up to a week.

However, at the slightest sign of blepharitis, it is essential to take your son or daughter to the doctor to take a look at the situation. Double care must be taken if the causative agent of the problem is a bacterium and look for the appropriate treatment.

As in adults, the treatment for blepharitis in babies consists of applying specific medications and warm compresses, in addition to specific neat cleanings and treating the cause of blepharitis, if applicable.

How to prevent blepharitis?

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Since blepharitis is usually caused by other diseases and skin problems, prevention is a little tricky.

However, some simple measures can considerably reduce your risk of developing the problem.

Are they:

Keep your eyes clean

The accumulation of secretions, substances and microorganisms that cause blepharitis can be prevented, in most cases, with the help of a good cleaning routine in the region.

Cleaning your eyes daily is a daily habit that should be cultivated as well as brushing your teeth or bathing, for example.

To wash your eyes properly, you can follow a few steps:

  1. Before starting the procedure, thoroughly wash your hands with running water and soap;
  2. If you wear contact lenses, remove them;
  3. Wash your eyes with warm water. To do this, put your hands together in the shape of a shell, fill them with water, throw them over your eyes and rub them gently, without sudden movements;
  4. Repeat the procedure a few times;
  5. Dry with a clean, dry towel.

Eat properly

Having an adequate diet rich in vitamins E, A and C can be an excellent step to avoid episodes of blepharitis – especially for those who suffer from chronic blepharitis.

Try adding some of the following foods to your weekly menu:

Foods rich in vitamin A

  • Carrot;
  • Sweet potato;
  • Pumpkin;
  • Spinach;
  • Cabbage;
  • Tomato;
  • Mango.

Foods rich in vitamin C

  • Orange;
  • Lemon;
  • Strawberry;
  • Acerola;
  • Guava;
  • Papaya;
  • Kiwi;
  • Raspberry;
  • Broccoli;
  • Pepper.

Foods rich in vitamin E

  • Spinach;
  • Broccoli;
  • Soy oil;
  • Kiwi;
  • Avocado;
  • Mango;
  • Tomato;
  • Asparagus;
  • Peanut;
  • Blackberry.

Remove all makeup before bed

It is known that not removing makeup can favor inflammation in the eyes, in addition to seriously damaging the health of the eyelashes.

To avoid problems, it is essential to remove all products that are on your skin before bedtime.

In July 2013, Anna Pursglove, a reporter for the British newspaper Daily Mail, did a bold experiment: she spent 30 days without removing her makeup to see what was going on.

The result of Anna’s experiment was alarming. The journalist’s eyelashes started to fall, her eyes were covered with small white cysts and the reporter’s skin aged the equivalent of 10 years in just one month.

How to remove makeup properly

  1. Pass a moistened handkerchief over the entire make-up area, to remove the excesses;
  2. Apply a make-up remover of your choice to a piece of cotton and rub it all over your face to remove makeup. Using a specific product is an important step in the process, as running water alone is not enough to clean;
  3. To properly remove the remains of mascara from the eyelashes, moisten a cotton ball with water and carefully pass over the eyelashes, making vertical movements, from top to bottom;
  4. Finish with a specific eye make-up remover. This type of product can be purchased at any pharmacy or perfumery store.

Don’t share makeup

It is not common for makeup sharing to transmit diseases such as blepharitis, but it is a possibility, especially for people who have low immunity and / or diseases that affect the immune system.

As the microorganisms that cause blepharitis do not survive long outside the human body, the risk is greater if the sharing is immediate, that is, it occurs in a short period of time.

If you have blepharitis, pass an eye pencil and immediately lend it to someone else, you risk passing the problem on to them. Therefore, when in doubt, it is better to avoid sharing makeup.

Blepharitis in dogs

Blepharitis is a disease that is not limited to humans. Yes, the problem can also affect dogs.

In dogs, in addition to the typical redness in the eyelid and around the eyes, blepharitis can also manifest itself through the elimination of secretions with water and pus. The skin around your friend’s eye can also lose pigmentation and develop thick scales.

Animals affected by blepharitis also tend to scratch their eyes and lose some of the quality of their vision.

The causes of blepharitis in pets, as well as in humans, can be of allergic, bacterial or congenital origin. Only a veterinarian can tell you exactly what is causing the condition.

To diagnose the problem, the professional must order a battery of tests, including a physical profile, complete blood count and samples of the affected area for laboratory analysis.

Once the diagnosis of blepharitis in the dog is confirmed, the veterinarian will recommend the most appropriate treatment, which may involve the application of medications and / or surgical intervention.

As well as treatment for humans, in animals, the cause of blepharitis will also be treated, in addition to the problem itself.