How to Do a DIY Eyelid Scrub for Blepharitis

If you've ever woken up with dry, itchy, flaking eyelids, you've probably had blepharitis, an inflammation of the eyelids. Blepharitis may cause symptoms such as:

  • Burning
  • Tired eyes
  • Blurred vision

Fortunately, simple eyelid scrubs (along with a few other techniques) can help to relieve the symptoms quickly.

A man washing his face in the sink
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Types of Blepharitis

According to the National Eye Institute of the National Institutes of Health, there are two main types of blepharitis. You may have one type or you may have a combination of both. They are:

  • Anterior Lid Margin Disease (ALMD): Crusting at the base of the eyelashes as a result of a superficial infection by any of a number of micro-organisms
  • Posterior Lid Margin Disease (PLMD): Due to the production of an irregular, thick, oily, and unstable tear film by dysfunctional glands within the eyelids
  • Mixed Blepharitis: A combination of ALMD and PLMD
Blepharitis

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Causes

Blepharitis can develop when there are an excessive number of bacteria on the eyelids and at the base of the eyelashes. Bacteria normally live on the skin, but bacterial overgrowth can lead to an infection. Blepharitis can also develop if the oil glands in the eyelids are clogged and lead to irritation or inflammation.

Blepharitis is often associated with other conditions that include:

  • Dandruff
  • Rosacea
  • Oily skin
  • Allergies that affect the eyes

Treatments

Blepharitis responds well to treatment. However, it usually does not disappear completely and tends to keep coming back. People with blepharitis need to practice good eyelid hygiene and apply a mild cleanser (such as baby shampoo) to the eyelids to keep them free from crusts, especially during flare-ups.

A regular daily routine may include:

  • Warm Compresses. A clean, warm washcloth is applied over a closed eyelid for three to five minutes at a time to break down oils that may be clogging the eyelid glands.
  • Eyelid massages. After applying a warm compress, massaging the eyelids can help move oil up and out of the eyelid gland. Gently rub along the length of the upper and lower eyelids for 30 seconds.
  • Lid margin hygiene. The eyelid margin is cleaned, usually once or twice a day, to mechanically remove any crust or micro-organisms. This can be done with either commercially available eyelid scrub pads or a homemade eyelid scrub.

Eyelid Scrubs and How To Make One

Eyelid scrubs can be effective for relieving dry, itchy, flaking eyelids due to either ALMD or PLMD, though PLMD is more likely to return over time.

Eyelid scrubs are exactly what they sound like: a process for removing material from the eyelids in order to treat blepharitis. Since they're inexpensive and easy to perform at home, eyelid scrubs are a great way to keep your eyelashes clean and alleviate symptoms.

Making Your Own Eyelid Scrub

It's easy to find over-the-counter eyelid scrubs in pharmacies, and these can be very handy in the office or on the go. There's no reason, however, to purchase eyelid scrubs for in-home use. It's easy to make your own for a fraction of the cost.

What You Need

  • A clean washcloth or Q-tip
  • Warm water
  • Baby shampoo

What to Do

  1. Mix baby shampoo with clean, warm water in equal parts or a one-to-one ratio to make the eyelid scrub solution.
  2. Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water.
  3. Soak a clean washcloth in warm water.
  4. Apply a small amount of the baby shampoo solution to the washcloth.
  5. Close one eye and gently rub the base of your eyelashes with the warm washcloth. Rub the entire area for one minute. (A Q-tip may be a gentler option and preferable if you have severe inflammation.)
  6. Carefully rinse your entire eyelid with clean, cool water.
  7. Repeat with your other eye, using a clean washcloth/Q-tip.

Useful Tips

  • Your eye doctor may recommend performing an eyelid scrub two or three times each day to help alleviate your symptoms.
  • Some eye doctors may suggest an over-the-counter cleansing agent to use in place of baby shampoo.
  • Always use a clean washcloth for each eye to avoid spreading germs or bacteria from one eye to the other.
  • If you suffer from blepharitis, eyelid scrubs might become part of your daily eyelid hygiene routine.

When to See a Doctor

If your blepharitis doesn't get better or keeps coming back, you may need to talk to your eye doctor about other treatments. Other treatment options that an eye doctor may recommend include:

  • Steroid eye drops for swelling and inflammation
  • Antibiotics, if bacteria is identified as the culprit of your blepharitis
  • Treatment of the underlying health problem, such as dandruff or rosacea

Frequently Asked Questions

Which eyelid scrub should I buy?

Over-the-counter eyelid scrubs contain ingredients that treat the root causes of blepharitis. The appropriate medicated wipes or eye solution will depend on the underlying cause.

How long does blepharitis last?

Blepharitis gets better with treatment, but it usually does not completely go away. It is commonly a recurrent problem that can be managed with regular daily eyelid hygiene.

How do I get rid of blepharitis naturally?

Complete elimination of blepharitis may not be possible, but adhering to a regular eyelid hygiene routine should reduce symptoms, severity, and flare-ups. Regular use of warm compresses, gentle eyelid massages, and eyelid scrubs can help remove crusting and reduce inflammation. Talk to your doctor if these remedies are not enough.

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Article 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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  2. National Institutes of Health. Blepharitis. Updated August 30, 2020.

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  5. American Optometric Association. Blepharitis.

  6. Murphy O, O'Dweyer V, Lloyd-McKernan A. The efficacy of tea tree face wash, 1, 2-Octanediol and microblepharoexfoliation in treating Demodex folliculorum blepharitisContact Lens and Anterior Eye. 2018;41(1):77-82. doi:10.1016/j.clae.2017.10.012

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