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eMed previously Babylon Health


Reviewed by Dr Claudia Pastides, 24th April 2019

This relatively common eye condition can affect people of all ages, and can affect one or both eyes. It shouldn’t cause any sight problems, however it does cause swollen and itchy eyelids.

Blepharitis can be uncomfortable and embarrassing for the sufferer, so seek a doctor’s advice as soon as possible. Special cleaning solutions can treat the condition and prevent it from coming back again, so talk to a GP about treatment today.


The main symptoms of blepharitis affect the eyelids – they become red, inflamed, sore, dry and itchy. You may notice a burning feeling in the eye or become extra sensitive to light. The eyelashes can also be affected, as they might start to stick together or fall out completely. Symptoms tend to be worse in the mornings, and if you wear contact lenses these will feel very uncomfortable.

Blepharitis is usually a long-term condition, however you will usually have periods without symptoms.

Causes of blepharitis

There are two main causes of blepharitis:

  • A bacterial infection
  • A type of dermatitis

The staphylococcus bacteria live harmlessly on most people’s skin, however in some people there is a reaction – inflamed eyelids. Blepharitis can also be caused by a problem with the Meibomian glands, when too much of an oily substance is produced. This can result in a form of dermatitis which causes the sore eyelids, recurrent styes and sometimes cysts in the eyelids.


Blepharitis is not contagious, however those who experience it often want to relieve the symptoms as soon as possible. A daily eye cleaning routine is usually the best way to treat the condition, to wipe away any excess oil, dirt or grime which has built up around the eye.

If this doesn’t work, more severe cases may be treated using antibiotics. These can be prescribed as ointments, eye drops or in tablet form. Book a consultation with a GP to start your treatment immediately.

The information provided is for educational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Seek the advice of a doctor with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never delay seeking or disregard professional medical advice because of something you have read here.