Blepharitis (blef-uh-RYE-tis) is a common inflammation of the eyelid rims and is caused by clogged oil glands at the base of the eyelashes. Blepharitis is not contagious and very rarely affects vision. However, it can be physically uncomfortable and embarrassing for the client.


The symptoms of blepharitis may be most noticeable first thing in the morning. These symptoms can include the following:

  • Red, swollen eyelids
  • Gritty, burning eyes.
  • Oily eyelids
  • Itchy eyelids
  • Noticeable flaking skin around the eyes
  • Crusted eyelashes
  • Watery eyes
  • Frequent blinking
  • Noticeably dry eyes

More severe cases can result in:

  • Light sensitivity
  • Blurred vision
  • Foamy tears
  • Loss of eyelashes
  • Ingrown or misdirected eyelashes
  • Swelling and irritation to other parts of the eye

Causes of Blepharitis

The oil glands along the edges of the eyelids can become clogged by excess bacteria or mites. Other causes might include dry eyes, gland malfunctions, forms of dandruff, rosacea, eczema, allergic reactions, or fungal growth.


Hygiene is essential in preventing and controlling blepharitis. Eyes should be gently washed with warm water and a mild cleaning solution daily.

Clients with a history of blepharitis, dandruff, other skin disorders, common allergic reactions (like latex or ammonia), or chronic dry eyes may not be good candidates for eyelash extensions, permanent makeup, or other treatments directly affecting the eyes.

Be sure to maintain a carefully sanitized and professional environment when applying eye treatment. Be mindful of these measures with any eye, facial, eyebrow, or eyelash treatment, regardless of client history. Give thorough instructions for care and cleansing following any eye or lash treatment

Blepharitis Treatment

Blepharitis often becomes a chronic condition, and there is no cure. Treatment includes careful cleaning measures. Your client may need to clean their eyes frequently when crusting is present. Along with washing the eyes, wash the face, hair, scalp, and eyebrows with antibacterial soap. You may also recommend antibacterial moisturizers and sprays.

Other treatment options include the following:

  • Warm compresses
  • Eyelid scrubs
  • Antibiotics (optical or oral)
  • Eye drops
  • Omega-3s (fish oil) supplements
  • Refraining from using eye makeup, contact solution, or other eye treatments that might clog the oil ducts.

If a client uses mascara or other eye makeup, replace these cosmetics every three months.

Medical treatments by an ophthalmologist can include:

  • Electromechanical lid margin debridement to remove contaminants and dead skin from the eyelids and oil glands.
  • Thermal pulsation treatment to liquefy and express oil blockages
  • Intense pulsed light (IPL) therapy to unclog eyelid glands and encourage normal oil secretion.

Other Common Conditions

Individuals with blepharitis often have additional problems like styes and further progression to a chalazion, dry eye complications, cornea or eye damage from improper eyelash growth, and conjunctivitis (pink eye).

When To See a Doctor

If a client follows careful hygiene routines and isn’t seeing improvement, or there’s a worsening condition, they should seek the advice of a medical professional.

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