Blepharitis: Symptoms, Causes & Treatment

Overview  |  Symptoms  |  Causes & Treatment

Are you waking up in the morning with your eyelids or lashes stuck together? That might be a sign of blepharitis, especially if your eyes are red and itchy.

On this page, we’ll discuss the symptoms and causes of blepharitis. Keep reading if you think this might be relevant to you.

What is blepharitis?

So you might be wondering what blepharitis is. The good news is you’ve come to the right place to find out.

Blepharitis is an inflammatory eyelid condition, which causes swelling of your eyelids due to blockages of the glands in the eyelids. The eyelids generally become red and itchy. Both eyes are usually affected, and you can get blepharitis both inside and outside your eyelids.

An eye specialist (ophthalmologist) will examine your eyes to determine if you have blepharitis. Based on the assessment, they can recommend the best treatment for you. 

Unfortunately, there is no cure for blepharitis. Though, there are plenty of ways you can manage the condition including regular lid hygiene with warm compress and massage, and eating a healthy diet.

Symptoms of blepharitis

So how do you recognise blepharitis? The following symptoms further answer the question, what is blepharitis?

Symptoms include:

  • Itchy, red eyes
  • Sore eyelids
  • Watery eyes
  • Sticky eyelashes and eyelids
  • Greasy looking eyelids
  • Swollen eyelids
  • Sensitivity to light
  • A burning or stinging sensation in the eyes
  • Flaky skin around the eyes that might look like dandruff


Blepharitis can cause more serious symptoms, which you should seek advice for.

These include:

  • Blurry vision
  • Losing eyelashes
  • Eyelashes growing in the wrong direction
  • Swelling in other areas of your eye, for example, the cornea

If these sound familiar, speak to an eye specialist for advice. Untreated blepharitis can lead to further complications. You might develop a stye, chalazion, cyst, conjunctivitis or dry eyes.

Importantly, if your symptoms are accompanied by sudden pain in the eyes or a change in vision, you may need to seek urgent care for your eye problems.

Causes and treatments of blepharitis

There are many possible reasons you have blepharitis, and your eye specialist is the best person to figure out what is causing your symptoms.

Common causes include:

  • Infections
  • Clogged oil glands
  • Hormone problems
  • An overgrowth of bacteria
  • Allergies that affect your eyelashes
  • Parasites, such as Demodex eyelash mites
  • Skin conditions, such as dandruff, seborrhoeic dermatitis, or rosacea

Clogged oil glands

Meibomian gland dysfunction (MGD) can lead to clogged oil (meibomian) glands. This can cause dry eye, inflammation, and infection.

Applying a warm compress and massaging your eyelids can be a great way to unclog your oil glands. An eye specialist can also use meibomian gland expression to relieve clogged meibomian glands. This is a common dry eye treatment. You may also need IPL therapy.

Demodex eyelash mites

Demodex mites are small insects that live on your hair follicles. Your eyelash follicles and glands can become blocked by Demodex mites. Especially if you have an overgrowth of mites on your face.

You should clean your eyelids at least once a day and remove any makeup before bed. For more advanced cleaning, you might need BlephEx™ treatment. In BlephEx™ treatment, an eye specialist will use a medical-grade sponge to remove any bacteria, crusting and debris on your eyelashes and eyelids.

Skin conditions

Skin conditions such as dandruff, seborrhoeic dermatitis, or rosacea can lead to flaky, dry skin. 

This, in turn, can irritate your eyelids and cause inflammation. Prolonged irritation and inflammation of the eyelids can lead to a corneal ulcer (keratitis). So seek the advice of an eye specialist if you’re experiencing worrying symptoms. 

If you have a skin condition, make sure you are using the correct medication to treat it. This could include a special shampoo for seborrhoeic dermatitis or antibiotic tablets for rosacea.

Book an appointment

Blepharitis can lead to a stye, cyst, conjunctivitis, and other eye problems. Therefore, you must speak to an eye specialist as soon as you notice new symptoms.

We will give you a full assessment of your eyes to determine if you have blepharitis and recommend the best way to treat your symptoms.

Book an appointment today to prioritise your eye health and arrange early testing for blepharitis.

We also offer a second opinion service if you believe your blepharitis symptoms have been overlooked by another professional.

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0330 128 1616

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