Blepharitis can be effectively treated with some over-the-counter options, such as eyelid scrubs, artificial tear eye drops, and shampoos. These OTC treatments can help to decrease instances of blepharitis and speed recovery timelines.

Talk to a doctor if symptoms worsen or if blepharitis lasts longer than several days.

Common Over-the-Counter (OTC) Blepharitis Treatments

Blepharitis, or inflamed eyelids, is typically the result of clogged oil glands at the edge of the eyelashes. This may cause crusty, scaly, dandruff-like discharge that changes the appearance around the eyes.

Over-the-counter (OTC) treatments for blepharitis are available at pharmacies and some grocery stores. OTC blepharitis treatments include:

  • Eyelid scrubs. These can remove bacteria, pollen, and pore-clogging residue that causes blepharitis. These scrubs are available in varying degrees of strength, and they may include antibacterial ingredients that can ease symptoms. They sometimes come as single-use pads, so the cost can add up over time. It is important to check ingredients, as preservatives contained in some eyelid scrubs may be irritating for some people.
  • Skin exfoliators. These can help to lessen symptoms, but it is important that they are smooth and not grainy. Do not rub the eyelids aggressively as this can damage the area. Use warm, not hot, water to remove the substance.
  • Artificial tear solutions. Many people with blepharitis suffer from dry eye. It is best to consult with a doctor before buying OTC tear drop solutions. In some cases, a prescription option might work better.

Other steps can be taken to treat blepharitis and speed recovery. These include:

  • Anti-dandruff shampoos. Dandruff on the scalp can sometimes contribute to blepharitis. Using an anti-dandruff shampoo on the scalp may reduce the likelihood of developing the condition.
  • Keeping skin bare. Wear no or little eye makeup to keep the skin around the eyes clean.
  • Wearing glasses. Avoid contacts while the skin is inflamed. Choose glasses instead.
  • Good hygiene. It is crucial to ensure hands are clean before applying any OTC blepharitis treatment. Wash your hands thoroughly before you wash your eyelids or use any scrubs. This can prevent future flareups as well.

Take precautions if you have eczema or atopic dermatitis. Some treatments may contain chemicals that worsen blepharitis

When to See a Doctor

Doctor talkingWhile blepharitis is a chronic condition, good hygiene can prevent its recurrence and manage symptoms. If left untreated, blepharitis can lead to additional issues.

You should see a doctor if these issues occur. They include:

  • Staphylococcal blepharitis. Staph bacteria can cause this form of blepharitis. An ophthalmologist can take samples of dandruff around the eye and test it in a lab to see whether the bacteria is present. They will then decide on a treatment path.
  • Styes. Similar in appearance to pimples, styes are red lumps on the eye. They usually contain pus, may cause pain, and often disappear by themselves after about two days. Place a warm, clean washcloth over the stye to relieve symptoms. It is important to talk to a doctor if the stye remains for more than two days.
  • Chalazion. These lumps look similar to styes. They are painless and caused by oil blockages at the base of an eyelash.
  • Conjunctivitis (pink eye). This condition makes the white part of the eyes look pink. It causes inflammation in the clear part of the membrane that marks the edges of the eyelid and sits over the white part of the eye. Pink eye is contagious, so it is important to be careful and consult with a physician to avoid spreading it to others.

The good news is that blepharitis is generally easy to treat. There are many over-the-counter and inexpensive treatment options that can alleviate symptoms.

Start with the basics described above, and if symptoms persist, see your doctor. 

References

Blepharitis. (March 2020). Mayo Clinic.

Blepharitis. American Optometric Association.

How to Promote and Preserve Eyelid Health. (October 2012). Clinical Ophthalmology.

Blepharitis and Dry Eye: A Common, Yet Complicated Condition. (August 2010). Review of Optometry.

Dandruff Shampoo Seems to Help Relieve Blepharitis. (August 2011). Houston Chronicle.

Blepharitis. (July 2020). Cleveland Clinic.

Sty: Symptoms and Causes. (July 2020). Mayo Clinic.

The Branches of Blepharitis. (February 2014). Review of Optometry.

Pink Eye. (July 2020). Mayo Clinic.

Managing Blepharitis: Tried-and-True and New Approaches. (July 2012). American Academy of Ophthalmology.

 

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