Eyelid inflammation: symptoms, cause and treatment

An inflamed eyelid or eyelid inflammation is known as blepharitis. An inflamed eyelid usually occurs in the part of the eyelid where the eyelashes grow and can affect both eyelids. Blepharitis often occurs when sebaceous glands near the eyelid produce too much oil. These glands are located near the base of the eyelashes and become clogged due to overproduction. This leads to irritated and red eyes. You may also suffer from a painful eyelid. Several diseases and conditions can cause blepharitis. Blepharitis is often a chronic condition that is difficult to treat. Blepharitis can cause discomfort and be perceived as cosmetically disturbing. An inflamed eyelid or eyelid infection usually does not cause permanent damage to your vision and is not contagious.

  • Inflamed eyelid
  • Cause of blepharitis
  • Risk factors
  • Inflamed eyelid symptoms
  • Examination and diagnosis
  • Treat and remedy eyelid inflammation
  • Self-care measures
  • Home remedy
  • Medicines
  • Preventing inflamed eyelid
  • Prognosis
  • Chronic condition
  • Therapy
  • Underlying cause
  • Complications
  • Self-care

Inflamed eyelid / Source: By Kenny/Shutterstock.com

Inflamed eyelid

An inflamed eyelid is the most common cause of dry and irritated eyes. The medical name is ‘blepharitis’. This involves an inflammation in the hair follicles of the eyelashes or in the sebaceous glands, which are located in the edge of the eyelids. It can occur in one or both eyelids. Red and swollen eyelid margins are the main symptoms.

Cause of blepharitis

Eyelid inflammation can be the result of inadequate eyelid hygiene, overgrowth of bacteria that feed on sebum, allergies (including allergic reactions of the eyes to medications, contact lens solution, or eye makeup), or a hormonal imbalance. It is also possible that the Meibomian glands (sebaceous glands) near the eyelid produce too much oil, causing these glands to become blocked.

Risk factors

An important risk factor for the development of inflamed eyelids is the condition seborrheic dermatitis (dandruff of the scalp and eyebrows). Bacterial overgrowth of staphylococci, a bacterium often associated with normal human skin flora, is another possible risk factor. The skin condition rosacea, which is characterized by redness in the face, can also be a trigger. Furthermore, eyelash mites or lice are a risk factor.

Blurred vision / Source: Gene Hunt, Flickr (CC BY-2.0)

Inflamed eyelid symptoms

An inflamed eyelid causes red, itchy, and slightly swollen eyelids. The base of your lashes may also be flaky. Other possible complaints are:

  • Feeling like there is something in your eye;
  • A burning sensation in the eye;
  • Sore eyelid;
  • Sensitivity to light (photophobia);
  • Red eyes and swollen eyelids;
  • Blurry sight;
  • Dry eyes;
  • Scabs on the eyelashes.

Examination and diagnosis

To make the diagnosis, the doctor will carefully examine your eyelids and eyes. The doctor can use a special magnifying glass during the examination. An ophthalmologist can look at your eyes with a light shined through a magnifying glass to view your eye. Sometimes the doctor finds it necessary to take a smear of the oil or crusts that have formed on the eyelid. This sample can be analyzed for the presence of bacteria or fungi. This can identify the culprit.

Treat and remedy eyelid inflammation

Self-care measures

If you suffer from inflamed eyelids, you can take the following measures to clean your eyelids:

  • Moisten a clean washcloth in warm (not hot) water.
  • Wring it out and place it on your closed eyelids for 5 minutes.
  • After 5 minutes, moisten the washcloth again so that it remains warm. This helps to soften the scabs, making them easier to remove.
  • After three times of 5 minutes, for a total of 15 minutes, the crusts are often sufficiently soaked.
  • Then clean and degrease the eyelid margins with a cotton swab.
  • Moisten the cotton swab with a solution of a glass of lukewarm water to which a few drops of baby shampoo have been added. This shampoo degreases, but does not irritate the eyes.

If you do not need to loosen scabs first, you can go straight to the last two steps.

Chamomile / Source: Poppet, Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-2.0)

Home remedy

There is also a home remedy to clean your inflamed eyelid, namely cleaning it with cooled chamomile tea. Dip a cotton swab through the tea and then clean the eyelid. Chamomile has antibacterial properties.

Medicines

If degreasing with the baby shampoo solution does not provide sufficient relief, the doctor can prescribe fusidic acid eye gel. Fusidic acid inhibits the growth of bacteria and should be applied immediately after degreasing. A pharmacy assistant can show you how to administer the drops. Read the package leaflet carefully before use. Artificial tears can help with dry eyes due to inflammation.

Preventing inflamed eyelid

Take the following preventive measures:

  • Keep your eyelids clean;
  • Remove all eye makeup before going to bed;
  • Don’t use eyeliner on the edges of your eyelids behind the lashes.

In the early stages of blepharitis, you can prevent further irritation by not using makeup.

Prognosis

An eyelid infection or blepharitis can vary in severity and duration. The prognosis depends on several factors, including the cause of the inflammation, the degree of inflammation and the care provided. Blepharitis usually does not seriously affect vision, but it can cause discomfort and irritation.

Here are some important points regarding the prognosis of eyelid inflammation:

Chronic condition

Eyelid inflammation can be a chronic condition, meaning it can return periodically even after treatment. People prone to blepharitis may experience periodic symptoms.

Therapy

The prognosis is often influenced by the treatment. It is important to consult an ophthalmologist for a proper diagnosis and to follow the recommended treatment. This may include the use of warm compresses, eyelid hygiene, cleansing of the eyelids and sometimes medication.

Underlying cause

The prognosis may vary depending on the underlying cause of the blepharitis. For example, if the inflammation is caused by an underlying condition such as rosacea, controlling that condition can help prevent recurrence.

Complications

In rare cases, eyelid inflammation can lead to complications, such as a corneal infection (keratitis) or scarring of the eyelid. It is important to recognize and treat any complications quickly to prevent permanent damage.

Self-care

In addition to medical treatment, regular self-care, such as keeping the eyelids clean and avoiding eye makeup, contact lenses, or other potential irritants, can help reduce symptoms and improve prognosis.

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