Blepharitis: Symptoms & Signs

Medically Reviewed on 9/10/2019

Blepharitis is the medical term for eyelid inflammation. It causes signs and symptoms that include

  • red, irritated, itchy eyelids, and
  • the formation of dandruff-like scales on the eyelashes and the eyelids.

Most cases of blepharitis are not contagious, and it does not cause permanent vision damage. However, it can be difficult to manage and may recur after treatment. When present, it usually affects both eyes. There are different types of blepharitis related to the underlying cause of the condition. It is often seen in people with acne of the face.

Causes of blepharitis

Most cases of blepharitis are due to a malfunction of the oil glands of the eyelids. Other causes include allergies to mascara, contact lens solutions, sprays, animals, environmental chemicals, or airborne allergens. Less commonly, inflammation of the eyelids can be caused by an infection by bacteria such as staphylococci or infestation of the lashes by tiny mites (Demodex) or head lice.

Other blepharitis symptoms and signs

  • Abnormal Eyelash Growth
  • Crusted Eyelids
  • Dandruff (Seborrhea) of the Eyelids
  • Dry Eyes
  • Flaking Skin Around the Eyes
  • Frothy or Bubbly Tears
  • Greasy Looking Eyelids
  • Gritty Sensation or Feeling That Something Is in the Eye
  • Itchy Eyelids
  • Itchy Eyes
  • Light Sensitivity
  • Loss of Eyelashes
  • Matting of the Eyelashes
  • Red Eyelids
  • Scales on the Eyelashes
  • Scales on the Eyelids
  • Sticking Eyelids
  • Swollen Eyelids
  • Thickened Eyelids

Kasper, D.L., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.