Most of us don’t pay attention to our eyes until something worrisome happens in them. The eyelids are the folds of skin that cover the eyes and protect them from external agents and injuries.
Your eyelids also have eyelashes with short, curved hair follicles at the edge. These follicles contain oil glands that can sometimes become clogged or irritated. And this can trigger certain disorders known as inflammation of the eyelids or blepharitis.
Why are the eyelids inflamed?
The exact cause of eyelid inflammation cannot always be known, but different factors can increase the risk of blepharitis. For example, we may be at higher risk if dandruff is present on the scalp or eyebrows. It is also possible to have an allergic reaction to makeup or other cosmetic products that are applied around the eyes, which triggers eyelid inflammation.
But these are not the only possible causes. Other risk factors for eyelid inflammation include eyelash mites or lice, a bacterial infection, side effects of medications, or a malfunctioning sebaceous gland.
Symptoms of blepharitis
To identify this eye problem, it is important to know the most common types of eyelid inflammation. Inflammation of the anterior eye occurs on the outside of the eye, where the eyelashes are located. Dandruff in the eyebrows and allergic reactions in the eyes can cause inflammation of the anterior eyelid.
Instead, the inflammation of the posterior eyelid occurs on the inner edge of the eyelids closest to the eye. A malfunctioning sebaceous gland behind the eyelash follicles is what normally causes this inflammation.
Inflammation of the eyelids is often noticed because it can irritate the eyes and possibly affect vision. Symptoms of inflammation include:
- Red or swollen eyelids
- Burning sensation in the eyes
- Oily eyelids
- Feeling that something is in or on your eyes
- Red or watery eyes
- Scab on the eyelashes or in the corners of the eyes
- Sensitivity to light
These symptoms can also indicate a serious eye infection. You should treat these symptoms as an emergency and see a doctor immediately.
How do you know if you have a swollen eyelid?
In addition to the physical change that can appear in the eyes, a GP, internist or eye doctor can diagnose if there is any underlying problem in that appearance. In some cases, just a physical evaluation of the eye is enough to diagnose the condition.
A doctor can also close-up your eyelids with a specialized magnifying tool. This eye exam checks the eyes for inflammation, as well as the presence of bacteria, fungi, or viruses, which may indicate an infection. If there are symptoms of an infection, your doctor will take a swab from the eye and take a sample of any fluid that comes out of the eyes. Then you will examine that sample under a microscope.
Treatments for inflammation of the eyelids
As a natural home remedy, washing your eyes and applying a warm compress can reduce inflammation. However, depending on the severity of the inflammation and whether it is caused by an infection, a doctor may recommend other treatments. So avoid self-medicating with the following treatments that we expose below
If you don’t have an infection, a doctor may prescribe steroids, eye drops, or ointments to reduce inflammation. It will be the specialist who can also prescribe lubricating eye drops and thus stop the irritation caused by dry eyes.
An antibiotic program can effectively treat eyelid infections. A doctor may prescribe antibiotics in the form of a pill, ointment, or liquid drops. They usually prescribe drops when an infection spreads beyond the eyelid.
However, you shouldn’t use antibiotics without knowing the source of the inflammation. If it is not generated by bacteria, the use of these drugs could have a negative effect. It is possible that the cause is a lesser evil, such as a little dust or an eyelash that has grown towards the inside of the eyelid. Go to a professional to assess your case.
Gently rubbing the lids removes biofilm buildup and excess bacteria from the margins. An ophthalmologist will usually recommend applying warm compresses and eyelid scrubs daily to clean the eyelids and reduce the amount of bacteria and mites in this area of the eyes.
Cleaning agents can be prescription eyelid cleansers, over-the-counter eyelid wipes, or diluted baby shampoo. Go to a specialist for proper advice.
Eyelash loss is a possible complication of eyelid inflammation. This is due to the formation of scars on the hair follicles, which can cause the eyelashes to grow incorrectly. So in the case of having extensive scars, the growth of eyelashes can also be prevented.
The most common short-term complications of eyelid inflammation include dry eyes and conjunctivitis . Although in the long term they usually include scarring on the eyelid, a stye (an infected lump that appears at the base of the eyelashes) or chronic conjunctivitis.
The sebaceous glands can also become infected and blocked. This can cause an infection under the eyelids. Also, an untreated eye infection can cause permanent eye damage and vision loss. Scars under the eyelids can scratch the delicate surface of the eye. It can also cause ulcers on the cornea , which is the transparent, protective outer layer of your eye.
Can blepharitis be prevented?
Inflammation of the eyelid can be uncomfortable, painful, and unsightly. Unfortunately, this problem cannot always be prevented, but there are some tips that can reduce the risk of inflammation.
Make sure to wash your face regularly. This includes removing eye and face makeup before going to sleep. It is important that you also avoid touching yourself, touch your eyes with dirty hands and do not rub the eyelids that have inflammation. Rubbing your eyes can spread an existing infection.
Also, you should check your eyelids if you notice pain, redness, or swelling. Controlling dandruff also helps reduce inflammation. If you have severe dandruff, see a doctor in case you have to prescribe a special shampoo.
On the other hand, blepharitis is usually a chronic condition, which means that it can recur frequently. The best way to prevent it or keep it from reappearing is to clean your eyelids daily to stop the accumulation of bacteria, biofilms, and mites on the eyelids.
Some eyelid cleaning products are sold free and can use the same eyelid hygiene techniques described above. A doctor might also recommend nutritional supplements like Omega-3 fatty acids to help keep your glands and eyes moist and comfortable.
In the case of wearing glasses or contact lenses , it is necessary to stop wearing them until the blepharitis has been successfully treated. Wearing contact lenses with inflammation of the eyelids can cause bacteria and other debris to adhere to the lenses and lead to conjunctivitis or other potentially serious eye diseases.