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Blepharitis lid hygiene advice

What is blepharitis?

Blepharitis is a common and persistent condition of inflammation of the eyelids. It frequently occurs in children who have oily skin, dandruff or dry eyes. Blepharitis often begins in early childhood producing “granulated eyelids” and may continue throughout life.

What causes it?

Bacteria reside on the surface of everyone’s skin, but in certain individuals they thrive in the skin at the base of the eyelashes. Dandruff-like scales and particles form along the lashes and eyelid margins due to the resulting irritation.

What symptoms does blepharitis cause?

For some children the scales or bacteria associated with blepharitis produce only minor irritation and itching, but in others they may cause redness, stinging or burning. Some children may develop an allergy to the scales or to the bacteria which surround them, possibly leading to a more serious complication – inflammation of the eye tissues.

How is blepharitis treated?

Blepharitis can be a persistent problem. Although there is no specific cure, blepharitis can be controlled through careful, regular lid hygiene routine.

How often should this routine be performed?

The cleansing routine should be performed at least 2 times per day. It may be necessary to repeat it more frequently at first, perhaps less often as the condition improves.

Finally, treatment may need to be continued for several weeks, sometimes months. Therefore do not give up the treatment even if it does not appear to be working in the initial stages.

What do you need?

  • Cotton wool balls, a clean washcloth or lint-free pads
  • Cotton wool buds
  • Cooled boiled water
  • A small, clean glass

What should you do?

  1. Take a clean wash cloth, wet it with warm water, wring it out and place it over the eyelids for five minutes. This will help to soften the crusts and loosen the oily debris
  2. Fill the small glass with two to three ounces of cooled boiled water
  3. Wash your hands
  4. Moisten a cotton wool ball, clean cloth or lint-free pad in the water. Ask the child to close their eyes softly as though they are asleep and then gently scrub the eyelids, rub well along the root of the lashes for 5 minutes
  5. Do this to both upper and lower roots of the upper and lower lashes using a separate clean cloth or cotton wool ball for each
  6. Repeat for the other eye
  7. Gently use a cotton bud dipped in the solution to brush the scales away from the eyelids. You can rub either in a horizontal or vertical direction, as long as the debris trapped in the eyelashes is effectively loosened and removed. This should take around half a minute for each eyelid
  8. Rinse the eyes with cool tap water and dry gently with a clean towel
  9. Rinse the glass clean
  10. If medication has been prescribed it should be applied to both eyes as instructed
  11. If necessary, treat head dandruff with an anti-dandruff shampoo
  12. Using eye make-up (if applicable) should be stopped, until the condition has resolved, and rubbing the eyes is discouraged.
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Please note: this is a generic information sheet relating to care at Sheffield Children’s NHS FT. These details may not reflect treatment at other hospitals. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professionals’ instructions. If this resource relates to medicines, please read it alongside the medicine manufacturer’s patient information leaflet. If this information has been translated into another language from English, efforts have been made to maintain accuracy, but there may still be some translation errors. If you are unsure about any of the guidance in this resource or have specific questions about how it relates to your child, always ask your healthcare professional for further advice.

Resource number: EYE4

Resource Type: Article

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If you have any questions, feel free to contact the eye department on 0114 2717468.


Western Bank
S10 2TH

United Kingdom

Switchboard: 0114 271 7000

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