Blepharitis

What is blepharitis?

Blepharitis is a chronic condition that causes swelling and irritation of the eyelid. It usually affects the part of the eyelid near the eyelashes. Blepharitis can sometimes lead to an infection in the eye and can cause a loss of eyelashes.

What are the symptoms of blepharitis?

The most common signs of blepharitis include:

  • red or watery eyes
  • itchy eyes
  • red or swollen eyelids
  • sticking eyelids
  • flaky skin around eyes
  • loss of eyelashes
  • crusty-looking eyelashes

What are the causes of blepharitis?

Blepharitis may have several causes. These can include infection, clogged oil glands in the eyelids or increased oil production in these glands. People with seborrheic dermatitis, an irritation of the top layers of skin, may be more likely to have blepharitis.

How is blepharitis diagnosed?

Blepharitis is usually diagnosed based on a complete medical history and a physical examination of the eyes. Additional tests are not usually needed to confirm the diagnosis.

What are the treatment options for blepharitis?

There is no cure for blepharitis, so the goal of treatment is to help keep symptoms under control.

Treatments may include:

  • applying warm, wet compresses to your child's eyes
  • antibiotic ointments for the eyes
  • washing the eyelids daily with a wet washcloth and a gentle baby shampoo

If your child also has seborrheic dermatitis, treatment may include:

  • special shampoo, as prescribed by your child's physician
  • corticosteroid cream or lotion

Severe cases of blepharitis may need to be managed by an ophthalmologist or eye care specialist.

How we care for blepharitis

The Ophthalmology Department at Boston Children’s Hospital offers specialized care for children with all types of eye conditions.