Blepharitis is a condition where the eyelids are chronically inflamed. This can cause itching, irritation, and crusting of the eyelashes. Sometimes, blepharitis can contribute to red eye infection. The condition can develop at any time in a person’s life and may happen just once or multiple times. Chronic blepharitis is sometimes called “granulated eyelids.”


Blepharitis takes two forms, one caused by an immune reaction to overgrowth of normal skin bacteria, and another, seborrheic blepharitis, triggered by an immune reaction that results in crusty discharges and scaling.

The first, more common form can be identified by redness along the eyelid margin and scales or flaking around the eyelashes. These may cause loss of eyelashes and distortion of the eyelid margins.  In seborrheic blepharitis, scales can be more oily and could be accompanied by dandruff.

Left untreated, blepharitis can worsen into a complication called ulcerated blepharitis, where erosion or ulceration of the eyelid and cornea can occur.  Should the condition advance to this point, aggressive treatment is required. Patient discomfort from ulcerated blepharitis can be substantial.


Treating blepharitis requires adherence to a strict regimen of eyelid hygiene.

In the morning, eye scrub pads can be used, as directed by a physician, to clean the eyelid margins (the location where the eyelashes meet the skin. A cotton swab with a 50/50% solution of water and baby shampoo is an alternative cleansing option. The swab should be rubbed across the eyelid margins for approximately one minute.  Hot compresses used several times (3 or 4) each day may help as well.

For seborrheic blepharitis, treatments used for dandruff or oily skin may be helpful, in addition to proper hygiene. In severe cases, antibiotics or steroid prescriptions may be required.

For an appointment, call DiStefano Eye Center at (423) 648-3937. Or click here to contact us online.