Blepharitis, styes and chalazia

Medical content revised by - Last revision 03/05/2016
Blepharitis, styes and chalazia

Blepharitis is an inflammation affecting the edges of the eyelid which makes them become red, flaky and swollen. Glands located near eyelids produce excess oil and such oil accumulates in a dandruff-like form and causes inflammation or leads to the appearance of bacteria.


Causes

This condition may be caused by a bacterial infection, generally caused by staphylococcus bacteria, leading to the appearance of ulcers or wounds in the eyelid, together with scabs and eyelashes loss. It can also be caused by seborrheic dermatitis, and display sticky skin flakes and seborrhoea located in the scalp.

In very rare cases, it might also be caused by the appearance of lice or nits in the eyelashes, as well as by allergies.


Treatment

The usual treatment for blepharitis consists of performing daily eyelid and eyelashes cleanings by means of specific soaps. The main goal of using such soaps is to eliminate the excess skin oil that has caused blepharitis on the first place. In case of staphylococcal blepharitis, it is important to maintain the eyelids hygiene, visit the ophthalmologist and treat the condition applying antibiotic ophthalmic ointment on the eyelids edge.

In reference to lice or nits, they can be eliminated by means of Vaseline ophthalmic ointments and subsequently removing them. In case of allergies, the allergist will identify the cause, treat it with topic medicines and afterwards, it will be necessary to avoid the allergen causing the trouble.


Complications

Patients suffering from blepharitis may experience an obstruction of sebaceous glands and a subsequent size increase of the same due to inflammation. This condition is known as chalazion or Meibomian gland lipogranuloma and it may be treated applying tepid water compresses on the closed eyelid for some minutes. Sometimes, the treatment may require the use of ophthalmic ointments and, in case it persists for several weeks or months, it may be necessary to undergo a small surgical intervention.

In some occasions, staphylococcus infects eyelashes hair follicles thus creating a stye, which can also be treated with antibiotics and tepid water compresses. Compresses should never be pressed against the eye in case of styes.

Blepharitis may also lead to other ocular conditions, such as conjunctivitis or corneal ulcers, or even cause a permanent loss or alteration in growth and positioning of eyelashes, thus causing discomfort.

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