What Are Blepharitis Symptoms?

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Blepharitis (eye inflammation) commonly causes your eyelids to become swollen, itchy and irritated. Sometimes confused with other eye conditions, blepharitis typically develops from too much bacteria on the skin and clogged oil glands around the eyelids.

While this uncomfortable condition isn’t curable, symptoms can be managed with home remedies or prescription medication.

This article provides an overview of blepharitis symptoms, offering tips on when to see a healthcare provider to treat irritation.

Close up of an infected eye lid

PhanuwatNandee / Getty Images

Blepharitis Symptoms: How to Tell

Your eyes are itchy, irritated, and maybe a little red. But how can you tell whether blepharitis or another eye condition is to blame? Blepharitis symptoms most commonly include:

Blepharitis can also cause more serious problems like:

Types of Blepharitis

There are two types of blepharitis. Anterior blepharitis affects the outside of your eye. Typically, this is caused by bacteria, scalp dandruff, or mites. Posterior blepharitis affects the inner eyelid and eyeball and is usually caused by clogged oil glands, rosacea, or dandruff.

When you have blepharitis, you might notice your symptoms worsening in the morning after you wake up. These symptoms can come on gradually or show up fairly quickly.

Risks of Untreated Blepharitis Symptoms

Blepharitis is one of the most common eye conditions that healthcare providers treat.

While it is manageable, blepharitis can sometimes develop into more serious eye conditions if symptoms are left untreated. Some of the risks include:

This is why keeping up with your healthcare provider’s recommended eyelid hygiene routine is important, even if you’re not experiencing a blepharitis flare-up.

Blepharitis Causes

Blepharitis can develop as a result of eyelid bacteria overgrowth, clogged oil glands, certain skin conditions, eyelash mites, or poor hygiene.

Treatment: How to Get Rid of Blepharitis Symptoms

Blepharitis symptoms can be long-lasting and flare up frequently if not correctly managed. Fortunately, some treatments can help ease blepharitis symptoms and inflammation. These options involve a mix of home remedies and over-the-counter (OTC) or prescription medications, as needed.

Home Remedies

To help control blepharitis symptoms, eye experts typically recommend a thorough eyelid cleaning plan/hygiene. This involves at-home eyelid skin care steps such as:

  • Applying warm compresses around the eye area
  • Lightly massaging the eyelids
  • Safely clearing away any built-up debris with a gentle eyelid scrub

In addition, there are some other complementary treatment options that your healthcare provider might recommend. Some of these might include the following:

  • Omega-3 fatty acid supplementation: May help reduce inflammation and dry eye symptoms
  • Tea tree oil application: May help eyelash mites (Demodex) infestation when applied to the eyelid area
  • Intense pulse light therapy (IPL) treatments: Might benefit dry eye symptoms in people who use this option for another skin condition like rosacea


Some blepharitis cases will also require medications to help ease symptoms. This includes OTC medicated eyelid washes or wipes that help keep the area clean and prevent additional inflammation. Available options include:

  • Avenova, a wash made from hypochlorous acid
  • Cliradex, a medicated wipe made of tea tree oil
  • Blephadex, a medicated wipe specifically for blepharitis that develops from eyelash mites

Certain types of blepharitis or more severe cases may require prescription medication, which your healthcare provider will determine during your diagnosis. This might include the following to help relieve symptoms, clear bacteria, and reduce inflammation:

  • Topical antibiotics in the form of ointment applied to the eye
  • Oral antibiotics taken in a short course
  • Topical steroids in the form of eye drops
  • Lubricating eye drops as needed (to keep the eye moist)

Signs of Worsening Blepharitis Symptoms

While blepharitis can often ease up on its own—or go through periods where symptoms are not flaring—many times, treatment is required.

If you've been following the at-home eyelid care regularly, but symptoms don't seem to improve, flagging this to a healthcare provider is a good idea. From there, they can perform an eye exam and recommend another treatment option.

In addition, sometimes blepharitis can be mistaken for other common eye conditions, such as:

  • Bacterial infections like impetigo (skin infection that causes sores and blister-like bumps)
  • Viral infections like varicella-zoster virus (the virus that causes chickenpox)
  • Parasitic infections
  • Skin conditions like psoriasis
  • Noncancerous or cancerous eyelid tumors
  • Chemical trauma

Any changes to your vision, which can sometimes happen with blepharitis, that last more than a few days or start to get worse should be checked out by a healthcare provider as soon as possible.


Blepharitis is a common eye condition that typically causes dry, irritated, inflamed, and red eyelids—and sometimes other symptoms like a burning sensation, eye tearing, or vision changes. While blepharitis has no cure, treatment options like home remedies and medications are available to help ease discomfort.

9 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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By Cristina Mutchler
Cristina Mutchler is an award-winning journalist with more than a decade of experience in national media, specializing in health and wellness content.