An introduction to blepharitis treatments
Blepharitis is often a chronic condition involving the inflammation of the edges of the eyelids. This can cause a number of unpleasant symptoms, including sore, itchy and dry eyes as well as crusty and sticky discharge.
For many, this condition may be recurring and severe, requiring constant care and attention to manage and prevent symptoms. The good news is that there are loads of natural home remedies that can help this condition, as well as some herbal remedies that may alleviate your symptoms.
It is important to get a confirmed diagnosis of blepharitis from your GP before trying to treat it yourself, as the symptoms of blepharitis are also similar to those of conjunctivitis or an allergy such as hayfever.
Good eye hygiene
One of the most commonly recommended treatments for blepharitis is simply good hygiene.
Often a three-part care regime is recommended, which should be repeated twice daily to clear up symptoms, and after that once daily will help prevent symptoms from returning.
- Apply a warm compress to soften and loosen crustiness, debris and discharge. Soak a flannel or cloth in warm, sterile water (water that has been boiled for 5 minutes and left to cool to a warm temperature) and then place over the eyes for 5-10 minutes
- After applying the warm compress, gently massage the upper and lower lids towards their edges to help push excess oily fluids out of the eye. The pressure applied should be firm, but should not hurt
- Finally, clean around the eye. There are a number of ways you can do this so it is worth trying a few to see which work for you. Common recommendations include mixing sterile water with either a baby shampoo, a tea tree shampoo, tea tree oil, or bicarbonate of soda, and applying to the eyelids using a cotton ball. Gently wipe along the lash line to clean, and then rinse with clean warm water to ensure shampoo residue does not irritate the eyes further.
Aside from this cleaning regime, there are a number of additional measures you can take to maintain good eye hygiene, including:
- Avoid wearing eye makeup as this will irritate the eyes further and could transfer bacteria into the already vulnerable eye
- If you do decide to use eye makeup after your symptoms have cleared up, make sure to check the use-by dates of the products, don’t share makeup with others, and ensure you thoroughly clean all makeup off before going to bed, or as soon as you don’t need it on anymore
- Remember to wash your hands before and after touching or cleaning the affected area
- Be extra careful about cleaning your contact lenses and lens case because if not cleaned properly they can exacerbate the problem and cause further infection. You could also try taking them out when you don’t need them, for example in the evening while having dinner or watching a film – you can always wear glasses instead. You should not wear contact lenses at all while you are suffering from a blepharitis flare-up.
Natural home remedies
Many people turn to home remedies and natural treatments to treat blepharitis as there are not many conventional treatments available, and those available do not always suit everyone. Simply maintaining good hygiene is not enough, in some cases, to control symptoms.
There are a number of home remedies available, and each individual will find differences in their effectiveness. It is worth trying a few to see which one works for you.
Home treatments for blepharitis include:
- Some people report positive results when using Manuka honey to treat blepharitis. You could try mixing Manuka honey with warm, sterile water, and applying to the eyelids using a cotton ball, much like the methods mentioned above. Alternatively you could soak a cloth in the Manuka honey and water mixture and place over the eyes for 5-10 minutes as a warm compress
- Diet can also be an effective way to control blepharitis symptoms. Try increasing your omega-3 fatty acid intake, which can be found in oily fish such as mackerel and fresh tuna. If you aren’t sure what delicious meals to make with fish, we have a list of fish recipes that may help
- Some people recommend the ‘Candida diet’ for treating blepharitis – this involves avoiding foods that encourage an overgrowth of Candida albicans (a fungus that naturally occurs in the gut) such as yeast, sugar, cheese and alcohol. If you are trying this diet you could try taking Molkosan, our prebiotic supplement, which is rich in lactic acid and helps prevent a candida overgrowth. Before radically changing your diet in this way we recommend checking it is safe to do so with your GP first
- Adjusting your diet to make sure it includes all the necessary nutrients for good eye health is also important. Read out article on the good foods for eye health for more information.
Are there any herbal remedies that might help?
Some individuals have reported positive results when using Euphrasia to treat the symptoms of blepharitis. This herb has been used for hundreds of years to treat eye problems, earning its alternative name ‘Eyebright’.
We recommend using Euphrasia in eye drop form, such as the A.Vogel Eye Drops. These drops help treat dry, tired and irritated eyes, so may help to treat some of your blepharitis symptoms.
You could also try our Vision Complex, for general eye health and good vision. It contains lutein and zinc, which are both vital for the maintenance of good eye health and healthy vision, and they also encourage the absorption of vitamins A and C, which are also vital for healthy eyes.
Conventional treatments and research
It is important to consult your doctor if you think you have blepharitis to get a confirmed diagnosis. This is because the symptoms of blepharitis could also be caused by other factors such as allergies or conjunctivitis, and you need to ensure you are getting the correct treatment.
If your symptoms are indeed caused by blepharitis and are not clearing up with regular cleaning, then your GP may prescribe a course of antibiotic cream or ointment which you can apply to the affected area. Occasionally GPs may prescribe a course of antibiotic tablets.
There are huge amounts of recent studies into both existing and new treatments for blepharitis, many of which are showing positive results:
- One study suggested that new liposomal sprays (such as Optrex) are significantly more effective than baby shampoo for treating blepharitis, so it is worth trying this as well as natural treatments.
- New treatments such as the use of steroids, corticosteroids and calcineurininhibitors are showing promising results.
- Research into ‘meibomian gland probing’ has also shown positive results. This involves clearing the glands of any obstructions in patients with Meibomian blepharitis. In the sample tested it proved to be 100% effective.
There are many studies and clinical trials in operation to try to find a better cure for blepharitis. Have a look on the NHS website for a list of trials happening around the world.