Blepharitis is chronic inflammation of the eyelids. Blepharitis causes swelling, itching, and irritation of the eyelids. The most common causes of blepharitis are seborrheic and Staphylococcus (staph).
Seborrheic blepharitis is associated with dandruff and may be a part of an overall skin disease which also affects the chest, back, and behind the ears. With Seborrheic blepharitis, the glands of the eyelid produce abnormal tear film. Stress, hormones, nutrition, and physical condition may contribute to the development of this condition. Symptoms of seborrheic blepharitis are redness of the eyelids, scaling and flaking around the eyelashes, and production of abnormal tear film.
Staph blepharitis is a more severe condition which often begins in childhood. Staph blepharitis is caused by bacteria. Symptoms of staph blepharitis are hard crusts around the eyelashes and difficulty opening the eyes in the morning. In some cases a red eye may develop or sty may form. Removal of hard crusts often leaves ulcers which bleed. If left untreated, staph blepharitis may lead to infection and scarring of the cornea and other areas of the eye.
It is often difficult to differentiate the two types of blepharitis because they frequently appear together. The main difference is the appearance of ulcers. Treatment of blepharitis is focused on maintaining clean eyelids by scrubbing with eyelid cleanser. In severe cases antibiotic drops and ointment may be necessary. Heat application may aid relief.