Thursday, 5 Aug 2021

Blepharitis symptoms: When to go to the doctors about inflamed eyelids

Chris Evans says he ‘deals with blepharitis every day’

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Blepharitis causes red, swollen and itchy eyelids and it’s normally caused by an infection. You can have it at the same time as eyelash problems, styes, pink eye and cornea injuries. It’s very common but can develop into a chronic condition or cause permanent damage to your eyesight so it’s important to get sorted. Here’s when you should see a doctor about inflamed eyelids.

Blepharitis symptoms come and go but you should always check with a doctor if you’re concerned.

The symptoms of blepharitis include:

  • Sore eyelids
  • Itchy eyes
  • A gritty feeling in the eyes
  • Flakes or crusts around the roots of the eyelashes
  • Red eyes or eyelids
  • Eyelids sticking together in the morning when you wake up
  • Watery eyes
  • Red eyes
  • Gritty, burning or stinging sensation in the eyes
  • Greasy eyelids

The exact cause of blepharitis is not known but it can be caused by a type of bacteria that lives on the skin or specific skin conditions

According to the Mayo Clinic, blepharitis might be associated with seborrheic dermatitis, infection, clogged oil glands in your eyelids, rosacea, allergies, eyelash mites or lice, or dry eyes.

Blepharitis cannot be spread to other people – it is not contagious.

You should not self diagnose if you are experiencing similar symptoms because it could be another eyelid problem.

When to see a doctor about inflamed eyelids

The NHS site recommends seeing your GP if your symptoms don’t improve after a few weeks of cleaning your eyelids.

The Mayo Clinic recommends jotting down the following in a list to help you:

  • Your symptoms (including any that seem unrelated to blepharitis) and when they began
  • All medications, vitamins or other supplements you take, including doses
  • Questions to ask your doctor (e.g. what is likely causing my symptoms, what tests will I need, should I see a specialist?)

Make sure you’re cleaning your eyelids once a day even if your symptoms clear up.

Cleaning your eyelids means more than just using a makeup wipe, make sure you soak a clean flannel or cotton wool in warm water and place it on your eye for 10 minutes.

Massage your eyelids with the flannel for 30 seconds and then clean your lids with damp cotton wool and baby shampoo.

Avoid wearing eye makeup and contact lenses while your eyelids are healing.

A pharmacist might suggest you get some eye drops, eye pads or wipes.

If this doesn’t work and your eyelids don’t clear up within a couple of weeks or the symptoms are really bothering you, your GP might suggest antibiotic creams or drops.

If the creams and drops don’t work or help after six weeks, you may be prescribed antibiotic tablets.

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