Health Writer

Blepharitis is a skin condition affecting the eyelids. It causes red, irritated and itchy eyelids. You may see some small white flakes on your eyelashes, similar to dandruff. It is usually caused by a bacterial infection, dandruff of the scalp or acne. It is not contagious.


Some of the symptoms of blepharitis are:

  • Gritty or burning sensation in the eyes
  • Excessive tearing or dry eyes
  • Itchy, red and swollen eyelids
  • Crusting or flaking on the eyelids
  • Eyelids sticking when you first wake up
  • Frequent blinking
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Blurred vision
  • MIssing eyelashes

In some cases it can lead to inflammation of other parts of the eye, such as the cornea.


Blepharitis occurs when the glands near your eyelid produce too much oil. It is most often seen in conjunction with:

  • Seborrheic dermatitis
  • Allergies
  • Lice that affect the eyelids
  • Rosacea

Sometimes bacteria that is normally found on the skin builds up and causes blepharitis.


Many cases of blepharitis don't need medical treatment. At home treatment includes cleaning your eyelids with a warm washcloth throughout the day. Placing the warm washcloth across your eyes for a few minutes can help loosen any crusting and make it easier to wash your eyelids. Add a few drops of baby shampoo to 3 ounces of water to use for cleaning your eyelids. If this doesn't clear up the infection, you should see your doctor who may prescribe antibiotics, steroid eyedrops or ointments.

Your doctor might also check for underlying conditions such as seborrheic dermatitis and reoscea. If you do have an underlying condition, treatment for that may help to control the blepharitis. Those who have oily skin, dandruff or dry eyes have a higher risk of developing blepharitis.

Once you have blepharitis, even after it has been treated, you are more susceptible to have relapses. Regular cleaning of the eyelids can help prevent it from returning.


"Blepharitis," Updated 2012, Aug. 14, Updated by Linda J. Vorvick, M.D., A.D.A.M. Medical Encyclopedia

"Blepharitis," Date Unknown, Reviewed by Jill E. Bixler, M.D., Kellogg Eye Center