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Eyelid scrubs are nonabrasive cleansers that clean the eyelids and sooth the irritation associated with blepharitis, or eyelid inflammation.
Blepharitis has several causes, including:
- bacterial infection
- Demodex mites (eyelash mites)
- clogged oil glands
- allergic reactions
- atopic dermatitis (eczema)
Eyelid scrubs can be purchased over the counter. They’re also easy and safe to make at home. Whether you use ready-made or homemade eyelid scrubs, avoid ingredients to which you’re sensitive or allergic.
In this article, we’ll explore over-the-counter (OTC) and DIY eyelid scrubs, and provide tips for using both.
OTC eyelid scrubs work by removing bacteria, pollen, and oily debris that’s accumulated at the root of the eyelashes. This reduces irritation and inflammation. Eyelid scrubs with certain ingredients, such as tea tree oil, also help kill eyelash mites.
Scrubs are available in various strengths. Some have chemical ingredients like preservatives, which may be irritating to the skin for some people.
OTC eyelid scrubs typically contain antibacterial ingredients, which may make them more effective than DIY treatments for some cases of blepharitis.
Most come in moistened, single-use pads, which sometimes come individually wrapped. These pads can be expensive to use, especially on a long-term basis.
Some people cut the pads into smaller pieces, in order to extend their use. If you do this, make sure to store the pads in a tight container so they don’t dry out.
Check out these products, available online.
To use eyelid scrub pads:
- Wash your hands.
- Remove your contact lenses, if you’re continuing to wear them during blepharitis outbreaks.
- Close your eyes.
- Gently rub your eyelids and eyelashes with a back-and-forth, horizontal motion.
- If you have crusty residue on your eyelashes upon waking, use a pad to gently rub it off, using a downward motion.
- You may also use a warm compress on your eyes to loosen the crusts, prior to using eyelid scrub pads.
- Don’t use the same part of a pad on both eyes. You can use one pad, or one part of a pad, per eye.
- Repeat one or two times daily, unless otherwise directed by a doctor.
If you use the right ingredients, making your own eyelid scrub at home is a safe, economical alternative to OTC eyelid pads. Avoid any ingredient to which you’re sensitive or allergic.
For example, some at-home eyelid scrub recipes require baby shampoo. Some baby shampoos contain ingredients, such as cocamidopropyl betaine (CAPB), which can cause allergic reactions in some people.
There are many DIY eyelid scrub recipes you can experiment with. They may be more effective if you start the process by placing a warm compress on each eyelid for five minutes, followed by gentle eye massage.
Here’s one simple recipe:
Ingredients you’ll need
- Cotton swabs
- 50 percent tea tree oil solution (you can also use tea tree oil shampoo diluted in equal parts water)
- Wash your hands thoroughly.
- Wet the cotton swabs with the tea tree oil solution.
- Swab your lashes from root to tip until the entire eyelid has been treated. This will take approximately six strokes to complete.
- Remove excess tea tree oil from your eyelids and lashes with a clean cotton swab.
- Repeat daily until your symptoms have resolved.
Try not to get the eyelid scrub solution into your eyes. If you do, rinse your eyes with warm water.
Never use tea tree oil or any essential oil at full strength. If you can’t find 50 percent tea tree oil solution, you can dilute full-strength tea tree oil with a carrier oil, such as mineral or olive oil. Use one to two drops of tea tree oil per tablespoon of carrier oil.
Eyelid scrubs are most effective when they’re combined with eyelid massage, warm compresses, and good hygiene which includes keeping your face and hair clean.
The skin of your eyelids is very sensitive and thin. Don’t use a granulated or heavily textured exfoliator on your eyelids. The texture of a moistened washcloth is sufficient for exfoliating your eyelids, and can be used with either DIY eyelid scrub solutions or warm water.
If your eyes remain irritated and uncomfortable after two or three days of self-care with no improvement, see a doctor. You may require medications such as antibiotics, or steroid eye drops.
Keep in mind that blepharitis is a chronic condition, which may come and go, requiring ongoing care both at home and from a doctor.
Blepharitis is chronic eye irritation that may come and go over time. Good hygiene and self-care measures, such as using eyelid scrubs and warm compresses, can help reduce symptoms.
Eyelid scrubs may be purchased, or made at home using simple ingredients such as tea tree oil.