While it’s best to have a doctor confirm that your symptoms are related to blepharitis and not another condition, you may be able to treat them at home.

If you have swollen, red, and crusty eyelids, you may have blepharitis. “Blepharitis” is the medical term for eyelid inflammation.

While uncomfortable, blepharitis is considered a common condition that usually does not damage your eyes. You often manage it at home.

Learn more about the home treatments for blepharitis, including ways to help prevent it from coming back.

The goal of home blepharitis treatment is to help manage redness and irritation, while also keeping your eyelids clean and free of crusts. Consider the following strategies that may help.

Warm compresses

A warm compress may help reduce eyelid swelling and discomfort. Apply a warm compress to your eyelids for at least 1 minute at a time. You might also consider using warm compresses as a first step to loosen crusts before washing your eyelids.

Warm water rinse

With blepharitis, you may need to wash your eyelids daily to help prevent flare-ups in the long term. You can do this with a warm water rinse.

Wet a clean, soft cloth with warm water. Rub the eyelid and lash line of one eye before rinsing with clean water. Repeat on the other eyelid and lash line with a new cloth.

You can clean your eyes twice daily when your symptoms start, then once per day as your condition improves, recommends the National Health Service in the United Kingdom.

Eyelid massage

You might also find it helpful to massage your eyelids during the cleaning process. After applying a warm compress to the eyelid as described above, massage the eyelid margins (around where the eyelashes are) in gentle circles for 30 seconds before rinsing.

Artificial tears

These types of eye drops may be found at a drugstore and may help treat dryness that can happen with blepharitis. Artificial tears help keep your eyes lubricated. They may also treat excess oil and flakes that might build up along the tear film that extends along your eye’s surface.

Baby shampoo

Cleaning your eyelids with baby shampoo may help remove crusts while also unclogging oil glands. Mix a small amount of baby shampoo with lukewarm water and carefully apply it to your eyelid with a soft cloth or a cotton swab. Gently rub to help remove crusts, then rinse with clean water. Repeat with a clean cloth or swab for each eye.

Anti-dandruff shampoo

Unlike baby shampoo, anti-dandruff shampoo should not be used to remove crusts around your eyes. However, if you have seborrheic dermatitis, you may find that using anti-dandruff shampoo on your hair may help control scalp crusts and excess oil that may travel from your hair to your face.

Consider taking fish oil

If you don’t regularly eat fish, a doctor may recommend taking fish oil supplements. These may help improve symptoms of blepharitis by treating dry eye.

In addition to home remedies, you may consider trying over-the-counter (OTC) artificial tears. These eye drops help reduce irritation by keeping your eyes lubricated.

Instead of using baby shampoo to clean your eyelids, you might also consider an OTC cleansing product designed specifically for the eyes. These may come in the form of rinses, wipes, or pads.

While home remedies and OTC products may help you manage the symptoms of blepharitis, you might also consider a healthy eye routine that can help reduce flare-ups. You can try:

  • not touching your face
  • cleaning your eyelids with water daily
  • removing any crusts around your eyelids
  • temporarily avoiding eye makeup during treatment
  • wearing glasses instead of contact lenses during treatment

Consider seeing a doctor if home treatments don’t improve your eye symptoms, including:

  • redness
  • swelling
  • burning or stinging
  • itchiness
  • dryness
  • crusts around the lids and lashes
  • watery eyes
  • foamy tears
  • light sensitivity
  • styes

When left untreated, blepharitis may cause more serious issues with your eyes. Contact a doctor right away if you’re experiencing:

  • chronic red eye
  • blurry vision
  • swelling in your eye
  • loss of eyelashes
  • eyelashes that are growing in the wrong direction

Consider talking with a doctor about the following blepharitis treatment questions:

How long does it take for blepharitis to clear up with home treatment?

If a bacterial infection is causing your blepharitis, you may need to take topical antibiotics for 2 to 8 weeks at a time.

Chronic blepharitis is a health condition that usually responds promptly to appropriate treatments. Following preventive measures may help you manage symptoms. If you stop following these measures, blepharitis may return.

If symptoms worsen, or if they don’t improve despite home treatments, you should consider reaching out to a doctor.

What prescriptions or in-office treatments are available for blepharitis?

In the case of more severe flare-ups, a doctor may recommend one of the following treatments to help treat blepharitis:

  • Steroid eye drops: These may help treat the underlying inflammation that’s causing swelling, redness, and irritation.
  • Antibiotic eye drops or ointments: A doctor may prescribe these if bacteria overgrowth is thought to be the underlying cause of blepharitis.
  • Oral antibiotics: While topical antibiotics may be used first, pill versions may be prescribed for more severe infections.
  • Demodex eradication: Demodex are tiny mites that are a leading cause of chronic blepharitis. Topical eyedrop therapy is now available to quickly end a Demodex infestation.
  • Thermal pulsation therapy: This in-office procedure uses a heated device to remove debris and crusts from the meibomian glands along your lash line.
  • Thermal therapy: Applied to your eyelids in-office, this procedure uses heat to break up debris.
  • Microblepharoexfoliation (BlephEx): This is another type of in-office treatment that targets debris around the eyelid with a light burr device.
  • Intense pulsed light (IPL) therapy: Research from 2021 suggests that this form of light treatment may help treat moderate to severe blepharitis by cleaning the meibomian glands and improving overall tear production.
  • Treatment of the underlying cause: If an underlying condition like dandruff, allergies, or rosacea are thought to be causing blepharitis, then treating these conditions may help.

Blepharitis, a common condition that refers to eyelid inflammation, may be managed at home with proper eyelid hygiene and other measures that keep your eyelid margins clean and free of crusted debris.

However, if you have an infection or another underlying cause that’s causing persistent redness, swelling, and vision problems, consider contacting an eye doctor for a prompt evaluation and accurate diagnosis.