Blepharitis is inflammation of the eyelids and causes them to become red, swollen and itchy. It can normally be treated by cleaningyour eyelids every day. The condition is not usually serious, but can lead to other problems, such as dry eyes, cysts and conjunctivitis, especially if it's not treated and kept under control

Check if you have blepharitis

Blepharitis symptoms often come and go.

Symptoms of blepharitis include:

  • sore eyelids
  • itchy eyes
  • a gritty feeling in the eyes
  • flakes or crusts around the roots of the eyelashes
  • red eyes or eyelids
  • eyelids sticking together in the morning when you wake up

In most cases both eyes are affected, but one eye can be more affected than the other. The symptoms tend to be worse in the morning.

Am I at risk for Blepharitis?

You are at higher risk for blepharitis if you have:

  • Dandruff – flaky patches in your scalp or face
  • Rosacea – a skin condition that causes redness and bumos, usually on your face
  • Oily skin
  • Allergies that affect your eyelashes

If this is the first time you have experienced these symptoms and/or you are not sure it’s blepharitis please contact your local/usual optometrist(optician).

Find optometrist (optician).

Under the Welsh Eye Care Service new symptoms such as this could be covered under the NHS.

Other related problems can be found here: eyelid problems.

Things you can do to treat and prevent blepharitis


  • clean your eyelids at least once a day
  • continue to clean your eyes, even if your symptoms clear up. It is important that treatment plans are adhered to and maintained, or there may be recurrences.


  • do not wear contact lenses while you have symptoms
  • do not use eye makeup, especially eyeliner, while you have symptoms

How to clean your eyes

There are many products available to help clean your eyes at your local Pharmacist or Optometrist (opticians) practice

These include sterile pads, moist wipes and cleaning solutions, if these are not available use warm water and clean cotton wool balls or makeup pads.

All of these treatments require you to get rid of any crust that has formed on your eye lids by firmly rubbing along your eyelid edges of both the upper and lower lids. Make sure you use a fresh pad when you switch eyes. Always do this with clean hands and follow the instructions on the packaging.

More information can be found at Blepharitis - what is it and how do I treat it? - Eye health advice.

Some people in addition to the above have posterior blepharitis or Meibomian Gland Dysfunction. This is where the glands that produce the oily part of your tears become blocked and leave your eyes feeling dry and sore. An Optometrist will tell you if you have this and may give you further advice on heat treatment products, lid massage and dry eye medications which will help with this.

Find a pharmacy

See a GP if:

  • your symptoms do not improve after a few weeks of cleaning your eyelids

Treatment for blepharitis from a GP

Your GP might suggest antibiotic creams or drops. If these do not help after 6 weeks, they may recommend antibiotic tablets.

What causes blepharitis?

Blepharitis can be caused by:

  • a type of bacteria that lives on the skin
  • a skin condition, such as atopic dermatitis

Blepharitis cannot be spread to other people.

The information on this page has been adapted by NHS Wales from original content supplied by NHS UK NHS website
Last Updated: 16/12/2021 15:51:50