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Inflamed eyelid (blepharitis)

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Last updated November 5, 2021

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What is an inflamed eyelid?

Blepharitis is an inflammation of the skin at the base of the eyelashes.

The oil glands around the eyelashes protect the surface of your eye from irritants, but if they become inflamed or clogged it can lead to discharge.

Normal bacteria can multiply and cause an infection when oil glands become blocked due to mucus; dirt; not removing all eye makeup; dandruff of the scalp and eyebrows; allergies to eye makeup or contact lens solution; debris from the environment.


If your symptoms do not clear up with self-treatment, see a medical provider. Blepharitis can become chronic and lead to infections of the eyelids and cornea; dry eyes that cannot wear contact lenses; and scarring and deformity of the eyelids.

Diagnosis is made through a physical examination of the eyelids, under magnification, and with a skin swab of the eyelashes.


Treatment usually focuses on keeping the lids clean so they do not become clogged.

  • Apply warm compresses (run a washcloth under hot water and place over closed eyes for 5 to 10 minutes).
  • Gently use an eyelid scrub like OcuSoft lid scrub.
  • Gently clean your eyelids with a drop of baby shampoo diluted with water. Apply with your fingertip and rinse with a few splashes of water.
  • Keep eyes moist with OTC artificial tears.
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