Blepharitis is a condition in which the eyelid becomes inflamed, which also affects the eyelashes in some cases. If left untreated, blepharitis can bring about other, more serious conditions.
Anterior blepharitis refers to the swelling of the outer surface of the eyelid, in the area from which the eyelashes grow. Posterior blepharitis, on the other hand, involves inflammation of the inner surface of the lid, which makes contact which the eyelid.
Staphylococcus bacteria and scalp dandruff are the most frequent causes of anterior blepharitis. Acne rosacea, or inflamed, red skin on the face, and dandruff cause posterior blepharitis. Posterior blepharitis can also result from irregular oil production of the meibomian glands in the inner eyelid.
In addition to swelling, sufferers of blepharitis may experience a burning sensation in the eyes, frothy tears, itching of the eyelids, build-up of crusts on the eyelashes, loss of the eyelashes and sensitivity to light.
Treating both types of blapharitis requires cleaning the eyelids and removing crusts. According to the National Eye Institute, a warm compress will help to dislodge crusts and should be followed a gentle scrubbing of the eyelid with a cotton swab dipped in a solution of water and baby shampoo. Serious cases of blepharitis may require prescription antibiotic eye drops or ointment.
The Mayo Clinic suggests that complications associated with blepharitis include: sty, a bacterial infection at the base of an eyelash that causes a lump to develop on the inside or edge of the lid; chalazion, a bacterial infection resulting from blockage of the meibomian glands that causes the inside of the lid to swell; recurrent pink eye; and injury to the cornea.