Its not a reaction its Blepharitis...!
What is Blepharitis?
Blepharitis (Bleph) is inflammation of the edges of the eyelids.
Symptoms can include:
- itchy, sore and red eyelids that stick together
- crusty or greasy eyelashes
- a burning, gritty sensation in your eyes
- increased sensitivity to light (photophobia)
- swollen eyelid margins
- finding contact lenses uncomfortable to wear
- abnormal eyelash growth or loss of eyelashes in severe cases
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.
What causes bleph?
Blepharitis isn’t contagious.
There are three main types of blepharitis:
- anterior blepharitis – where the inflammation affects the skin around the base of your eyelashes
- posterior blepharitis – where the inflammation affects your Meibomian glands, found along the eyelid margins behind the base of the eyelashes
- mixed blepharitis – a combination of both anterior and posterior blepharitis
Anterior blepharitis can be caused by either:
- a reaction to staphylococcus bacteria – these usually live harmlessly on the skin of many people, but for unknown reasons they can cause the eyelids to become inflamed
- seborrhoeic dermatitis – a skin condition that causes skin to become oily or flaky and sometimes irritate the eyelids, causing the Meibomian glands to block
Posterior blepharitis is caused by a problem with the Meibomian glands, where the glands get blocked by either debris, skin flakes or inflammation.
Mixed blepharitis, which is the most common, is caused by a combination of both anterior and posterior blepharitis.
Blepharitis isn’t usually serious, although it can lead to a number of further problems.
- Dry eye syndrome
- Meibomian cysts
- Damage to the cornea
Some of the complications associated with blepharitis can potentially affect your vision, although your eyesight shouldn’t be permanently damaged if these problems are identified and treated quickly.
How blepharitis is treated
Blepharitis is usually a long-term condition. Most people experience repeated episodes, separated by periods without symptoms.
It can’t usually be cured, but a daily eyelid-cleaning routine can help control the symptoms.
More severe cases may require antibiotics that are either applied to the eye oreyelid directly, or taken as tablets.
Advise your clients to contact their GP immediately if you notice any signs or symptoms. If severe then advise them to visit their nearest A&E department.
Lash mites – Demodex mite
Clients who suffer with chronic blepharitis following numerous unsuccessful treatments may well be suffering from the condition secondary to Demodex infestation.
The Demodex mite is an eight-legged parasite that can reside in our hair follicles and sebaceous glands.
Life cycle, survival of Demodex
The typical Demodex life cycle is usually 2 to 3 weeks. A female Demodex mite lays 15 to 20 eggs inside the hair follicle near the sebaceous glands. The eggs develop into larvae, which eventually become an adult eight-legged mite.
Eyelashes infested with Demodex often are brittle and easily exfoliate.
Patients who suffer from Demodex infestation may complain of eyelid and eyebrow itching (especially in the morning), a burning sensation and a foreign body sensation that seems to originate beneath their lids.
In the UK boots store sells the products, they aren’t cheap but they do help, they are also available at other stores and online.
I wouldn’t necessarily advise this to clients who are showing a mild case of bleph as a normal good hygiene regime should suffice.
We also do not know how this product may affect retention as they do contain some mild levels of oil.
But in our opinion health is far more important so if that means your client needs to have a break from extensions in order to clean properly until the problem is resolved then so be it.
Blepharitis is a chronic, long term condition. This means that once you have had it, it can come back even after it has cleared up, although the severity of each attack my vary. Good eye care is essential at all times to stop the condition occuring again, even when the symptoms are not visible. If you suffer with Blepharitis it is advisable to avoid wearing eye make up which include eyelash extensions and smokey atmospheres.
- You can use a warm flannel, cotton wool ball or similar compress on closed eyes for 5 minutes (use a different compress for each eye), rocking it gently to loosen and debris and then continue with steps below…
- You can buy specialist lid cleanser or wipes Blephasol or Blephaclean (seek advice from pharmacist or optometrist before use). Alternatively you can use cooled boiled water using a clean cotton wool bud or wipe to clean the edges of the eye lids at the base the lash line. Wipe from the inside (near your nose) to the outside corner of your eye. Take care not to touch the inside of the eyelid or the eyeball itself.
Repeat twice daily until symptoms resolve.
- Sometimes use of a lubricant can help soothe the eye and feel more comfortable, again seek advice from a pharmacist or optometrist.
- If the above treatments do not work then it maybe necessary for you to need a course of antibiotics. This can be prescribed by your optometrist or GP.
Its very important to use good aftercare at all times on your lashes.