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What is blepharitis?

blepharitis cape townBlepharitis is a long lasting or chronic inflammatory condition of the eyelid edges. It may be associated with some skin conditions, such as very dry or very oily skin and dandruff.

Blepharitis is caused by particles of dead skin blocking the duct opening at the inner edge of the lids. If left untreated, it can cause meibomian cysts, styes, conjunctivitis or marginal keratitis.

It can be effectively controlled by cleaning of the edge of the lids and lashes



  • Redness of the led edges
  • Whitish scales sticking to roots of lashes (not usually visible without magnification)
  • Burning, soreness and itching


Management of Blepharitis – lid hygieneblepharitis

All crusts and debris need to be removed from the edge of the lids and from between the eyelashes – this is done by performing lid hygiene.

How do I perform lid hygiene?

You will need:

  • A small dish or cup
  • Baby shampoo (as this will not sting or harm the eyes if diluted)
  • Cotton buds (do not use cotton balls as the strands may get stuck in the eye)
  • Cooled boiled water
  • A mirror

What to do:

  • Wash your hands before you start.
  • Add 1 or 2 drops of baby shampoo to 100ml of warm water so that you have a dilute, soapy solution.
  • Dip the cotton buds into the solution then gently clean along the lid edges and lashes to remove any crusts and debris from between the eyelashes of both the upper and lower lids.
  • Work on a small area at a time, then move on.
  • Continue until clear. Rinse the lids with clean water and dry gently.

Do no stick the cotton bud into the eye – stay on the outside where lashes are.

Pre-made kits exist for convenience. Ask your local pharmacist which ‘lid hygiene’ or blepharitis kits they stock. Below are some examples – it doesn’t matter which one you use, they are usually all equally effective (they all contain a mild detergent to help get rid of the crusts)

blepharitis cape town

For how long will I need to do this?

You will have to repeat this procedure at least twice a day at first, but gradually, as the condition is brought under control, it can be performed once a day.

Blepharitis is an ongoing condition, therefore lid cleaning needs to be continued.

When the crusts and debris are difficult to remove and meibomian cysts or styes occur, hot compression may be helpful. Using a pad of cotton wool or a clean cloth dipped in hot water, apply the hot compresses to your closed lids. Repeat as it cools. Follow this by performing you normal ‘lid hygiene’ procedure.

Blepharitis causes ‘dry eyes’ by breaking up the tear film, so you should use a regular eye lubricant drop in conjunction with this treatment.

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