Blepharitis is a term which refers to inflammation of the eyelid margins. This normally takes the form of redness, crusting and discharge from the eyelid around the base of the eyelashes. This condition is primarily a skin related disorder and is similar to dandruff involving the scalp. It differs slightly in that the debris which accumulates around the base of the eyelashes provides a food source for bacteria, which then multiply, resulting in recurrent irritation both of the eyelids and the eye itself. Associated with this may be small pustules at the base of the eyelashes (styes) or blockages to some of the small glands (meibomian glands) which open along the eyelid margin. Often, once this condition develops, it may persist from time to time throughout your life and is not something that can be completely cured. It can, however, usually be adequately controlled.
The mainstay of treatment comprises gentle scrubbing of the base of the eyelashes and the eyelid margins to remove any dead skin and crusts which accumulate. There are several commercially available products that can be used for cleaning. LID CARE is a solution which comes with small cleaning pads. STERI-LID FOAM is a cleansing foam that also has an antibacterial action. Cotton buds dipped into sterile saline, or some boiled water which has been allowed to cool, can also be used to directly scrub the lid margin. Some people prefer to wash with a mild salt or bicarbonate solution, and this is O.K. The application of a hot facecloth to the closed eye for a minute or two before this scrubbing commences helps to liquify the secretions in the small glands in the eyelid. Occasional use of a mild baby shampoo applied with some warm water on the fingertip and rubbed along the base of the lashes also helps to clear away any crusting.
Following this cleaning regime to the eyelids (which is usually carried out at night before bed, or if severe, morning and night), certain ointments may then need to be applied. Either an antibiotic ointment or a steroid based ointment may be given to supplement the eyelid scrubs, and help eliminate infection and reduce the redness and irritation.
Once the condition has settled down, the eyelid scrubs can be reduced to every second night, or once or twice a week to maintain control. In severe cases, oral antibiotic courses may be required to obtain control of the condition.